I’m often asked about the food and cuisine for vegetarian Pilgrims travelling along the way, especially as Spain and Portugal are both known for their meat and fish dishes.
The good news is that there are plenty of food options for vegetarians to choose from. Here is a rundown of popular veggie dishes you can order along the way:-
Breakfast in Spain and Portugal is a simple affair – you´ll find that most places offer a simple continental breakfast of pan (bread) with butter, jam, cheese or (my favourite) crushed tomatoes and garlic, all washed down with strong coffee and orange juice. Some hotels will also offer cereal, little pastries and fruit to go along.
The tortilla is a Spanish omelette and is a very well-known dish served throughout Spain. Many vegetarians on the Camino will tell you that tortilla became their standard fare, so it’s a good job that the Spanish version is tasty.
Patatas Bravas are fried potatoes served with a good dollop of spicy tomato and garlic sauce.While heavy on the hips, after a full day on the Camino, you may want to treat yourself and will find patatas bravas on the menu in most restaurants and bars.
Ensalada Rusa translates to Russian Salad and, again, is a popular staple in every restaurant and bar (especially as a tapas dish – see below). Consisting of potatoes, carrots, peas and hard-boiled eggs all mixed together with mayonnaise, don´t let the glopy nature of this dish put you off – it is very tasty. You may find that tuna is added in some places so always check that you order the vegetarian version.
Parrillada de Verduras
Verduras is the Spanish word for vegetables so when this appears on the menu, you know that you’re in for a treat. Parrillada de Verduras is basically a big, steaming plate of pan-fried vegetables (usually with a healthy serving of garlic). Also, look out for any dishes that are served as individual vegetables. Steamed or fried Asparagus is a popular option.
Vegetables grow in abundance in the hot and fertile lands of Spain and Portugal so you will usually see salad or ensalada (Spanish) salada (Portuguese) on the menu of most restaurants throughout the year.
Pimientos de Padron
The town of Padron on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago is the home of Pimientos (peppers) de Padron, a dish much-loved around the whole of Spain.
Setas a la Plancha
You know you have hit the jackpot if you see this dish on the menu! Setas are mushrooms and this dish is usually a selection of different mushrooms stir-fried and served with crusty bread. One of my favourite Spanish dishes.
Calde Verde is a popular Portuguese and Galician soup mainly cooked with potatoes, collard greens, olive oil and salt. Garlic and onion are traditionally added as well. Some recipes add meat so make sure to ask for a vegetarian version.
When in doubt, ask for eggs. Huevos in Spanish and Ovos in Portuguese. You will find that many restaurants will serve egg as a replacement for meat or fish, served with fries/potatoes and vegetables. It is always an option to fall back on.
Pastel de Nata
For those of you with a sweet tooth, don´t forget to try a Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese egg-based tart.
Check out our post – The Delectable Pastel de Nata
You will find that most of the above will be available as a tapas (small portion) or raciones (a half or full plate) so you can order different options and eat together.
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(c) Samantha Wilson 2019. All Rights Reserved.