Archive for the ‘Vegetarian Vuelta a España’

Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Pisto Machego Empanadas

September 10, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Snacks/Appetizers, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

Empanadas. If you stuff food into a pastry, I’m so totally there. The word “empanada” is derived from the Spanish verb empanar meaning “to wrap with bread”. Empanadas in Spain can either be made as small finger foods or similar to a pie that’s cut into slices.

These little savory pockets are so revered in Spain, that even a 12th century sculptor captured the food in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. From this carving, you could totally tell the upper crust really enjoyed their empanadas.


But, not everyone was allowed to enjoy them…in the same cathedral, these poor guys condemned to the pits of Hell forever tormented by not being able to eat their empanadas because of the leather straps around their necks.


I found many recipes for empanda dough but one thing remained the same – you have to really knead the dough. In fact, I came across this Galacian saying, ‘Making love and making dough for empanadas should never be rushed.’ Did Veggin’ just transfer from a PG to a PG-13 site with that? Uh, okay, moving on…

I put these empanadas together by adapting a couple of recipes. The pastry is almost biscuit-like when it puffs up in the heated oil. The filling is a traditional pisto a sort of Spanish ratatouille. The pisto recipe makes a lot, but don’t be afraid of freezing the leftovers to eat later. It goes well as a sandwich or thrown in an omelet.

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Pisto Manchego Empanadas
Pisto in Authentic La Mancha Style from
Dough by Megabeth

Pisto Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons Quality Spanish Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 Eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Large Zucchinis, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Large Ripe Tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 Teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Empanada Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 egg


Directions for Pisto:

Heat the olive oil in a stew pot over medium heat. Saute the eggplant and onion together until the onion is translucent; about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, peppers, and garlic. Saute slowly until all ingredients have softened.

Add tomatoes; stir.

Cover and cook on medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Set heat on low and allow to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding small amounts of water if necessary. The zucchini and eggplant should soften and break down and should form a lumpy mash. Add vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture cool slightly before moving on to make empanadas.

To make the dough:

Put all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut in the shortening with two knives.

Whisk egg and vegetable stock. Then add into the flour mixture. Knead until you get a dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Flour a flat surface and roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 4-inch circles using a glass or a biscuit cutter. Place 1 Tablespoon of the pisto into the center of the circle (make sure you drain off some of the liquid before putting it on the dough).

Fold dough into a 1/2 circle. Press the edges together with your finger, then finish using a fork.

Heat vegetable oil in a pan (about a 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) to about 350 degrees. Place empanadas into oil and fry on each side for 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown.

Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Vegan Tortilla De Patatas (Spanish Omelette)

September 08, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

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Tortillas de Patatas are a ubiquitous dish at tapas bars in Spain so it’s only natural I feature them on the Vegetarian Vuelta a España. Traditionally, this recipe is made with a bunch of eggs and potatoes. This version skips the eggs and instead uses a mixture of soymilk and chickpea flour to create the “glue” to hold the potatoes together.

Different regions in Spain make tortillas de patatas with various consistencies and thicknesses, different ingredients and it’s served with different accompaniments including bread, pickles and even mayonnaise. You could actually create a trip through Spain solely to try the varieties of tortillas de patatas – you’re guaranteed never to go hungry.

There are several legends of where this dish came from. The most likely origin is from the Navarre region in Northern Spain. An anonymous document called the “Mousehole’s Memorial” was written in 1817 and described the food eaten in the region including a dish made with “…two to three eggs in tortilla for 5 or 6 [people] as our women do know how to make it big and thick with less eggs, mixing potatoes, breadcrumbs or whatever.”

Another legend of this recipe involves Tomás de Zumalacárregui, a general in the Carlist Wars. Zumalacárregui came up to a farmhouse and demanded a meal from the farmer’s wife. All she had on hand were some eggs, a potato and an onion. She put these three things together, created the tortilla de patatas. He liked the recipe so much that he stole the idea.

Another tale is that during the war, Zumalacárregui was in the field and happened upon a farmhouse and demanded a meal from the farmwife. All she had were a few eggs, a potato and an onion, so she combined all three, making an omelette. Surprisingly, Zumalacárregui was pleased and took the idea with him.

These tortillas can be eaten hot or cold. Or, lukewarm. You see, after I made the tortilla de patatas, I was packing for a ride along the shore. Knowing I was in the midst of doing a culinary tour of Spain, one of our flock asked if I had anything for him to take with him for a snack as he searched through our refrigerator. Because I knew I’d be drafting off of him for most of the day, I knew he needed to be well fueled so I didn’t begrudge him his request. Also, I knew that because these were made without milk or eggs, I knew I didn’t have to fear any curdling in the heat. Bonus! I threw a slice for him in a little baggie, and off we went. What we soon began calling the “potatoes patatas” held up well when eaten at the first rest stop. I should have packed him some more because he ate what he had in two seconds flat. The only thing missing was some hot sauce.

Vegan Tortilla de Patatas (Vegan Spanish Omelet)
Adapted from

  • 7-8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tomato, cut into eighths
  • 8 tablespoons chickpea flour (gram flour)
  • 5 tablespoons soymilk
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • olive oil

In frying pan, heat olive oil at medium heat. Saute onion, zucchini and potatoes until they are soft. Remove from pan into bowl.

Put chickpea flour, soy milk, vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper, tomato and 1/2 cup of water in blender.

Blend until smooth. Add to cooked potato mixture. Add a few tablespoons of oil back into frying pan. When hot, pour potato mixture into frying pan. Flatten to make smooth and even.

Cook the potatoes for about 5 minutes with a lid or cover over the frying pan. (If you do not have a lid, then you can flip the potato carefully so both sides get cooked and browned.

Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Paella!

September 01, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

We’re entering into the long Labor Day weekend here in the States, so I’ll be disappearing a little bit for a few days. I’ve somehow gotten myself talked into heading down to the woods in North Carolina for some rustic camping and cycling. It seems innocent enough, but the many of the folks I’m going with are hoodlums from the cycling fan site Podium Cafe. So, wish me well on this adventure…I hope to come out alive on the other side.

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In the meantime, I leave you with a classic Spanish recipe – Paella. The origins of this dish brings up images of Spanish workers in the fields, cooking over open fires and serving straight from a communal round flat pan called La Paella. Fortunately for us, the main ingredients have evolved from the 18th century staple in paella – the marsh rat.

This post originally appeared on Veggin’ in July 2009 during my Vegetarian Tour de France, but it’s so good, it bears repeating. Enjoy!


It may be the Tour de France but some stages do dip into other countries…as shall I. I’ve been focusing on French dishes but today’s stage ended in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. That means, it’s time to whip up a Paella!

There are literally thousands of ways to make paella. I used a lot of the vegetables that I received in my weekly vegetable delivery (including a lot of the green onions!) Feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you may have on hand beyond what I have listed below – carrots, asparagus, peppers, capers, whatever. The key is throwing it in at the right times so you don’t end up with a squishy vegetable mess. The more delicate the vegetable, the later you throw it in. Be sure to let the cover sit on the pan to let everything steam and cook, but check to make sure the liquid isn’t burning off too quickly or the rice won’t be able to cook very well.

Paella is actually very easy to make and it becomes a really hearty dish with not a lot of added extra fat.  It’s a great dish to serve to a crowd and doesn’t require a lot of babysitting while it cooks. (And, if you ask nicely, perhaps someone will get up and check on the paella when it’s cooking so you don’t have to…)

Megabeth’s Paella

  • 4 green onions, white parts minced
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock (Go here to learn how to make your own…)
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (if you use brown, increase the cooking time
  • 3 corn cobs, cut into thirds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon saffron, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

In a small bowl, put crushed saffron in 1 Tablespoon of water and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent and softened.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add white rice, stir to coat with the oil, and cook until beginning to brown.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add one cup of vegetable stock and tomatoes.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add saffron and the water it was soaked in, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low. Add zuchinni, yellow squash and corn. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let simmer for 20 minutes on low.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Life cover, stir, and add artichoke hearts, and more of the vegetable broth. Replace cover and continue simmering until rice is cooked through – another 20 – 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add additional broth or water if rice begins to dry out in the cooking process.

Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Vegetarian Albóndigas (Spanish Chickpea Balls)

August 29, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Snacks/Appetizers, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

This recipe clearly is a clear reflection of the period of Islamic rule in Spain during the 6th century and how it influenced the cuisine in the area. Albóndigas, or Spanish meatballs, are often flavored with a variety of aromatic spices and flavors and most often include garlic, mint, onions, oregano, cayenne, paprika, cumin and mint.

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Holy smokes these were good. One little “meat”ball was a perfect little bite of spice and flavor. Nutmeg, cayenne, cumin, and even lemon zest in this recipe pack an awesome and unique punch. Look, I know I have a readership of omnivores. Trust me, there’s no need to go out and find lamb and pork and whatever. I guarantee you won’t be missing the meat after making and eating these. Heck, I’ll do you one better, don’t use egg, make them vegan. I made them that way and we didn’t miss a thing. Just add a little more olive oil to help the mixture stick. These albóndigas are an excellent addition to your tapas spread, or just load up some rice and albóndigas on your plate and dig in.

Spanish Chickpea Balls – Vegetarian Albóndigas
via Top Chef Blog Spain

  • 15 oz chickpeas (cooked or canned)
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1/3 cup fine wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten (omit if vegan and substitute with extra olive oil)
  • for the sauce
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mined
  • 300g (10½ oz) ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup peas
  • ½ cup fresh parsley &/or coriander, roughly chopped

Mince the chickpeas in a food processor or by hand until soft, make sure to retain texture, do not process or mash them to a pulp, you want to still be able to see small chunks of chickpea.

In a large bowl combine the minced chickpeas with the garlic, lemon zest, bread crumbs, spices and egg if using; use your hands bring the mixture together adding the olive oil a little at a time until the mixture starts to come together to form a mass. Depending on the chickpeas you use the mixture may be a little dry, add a little lemon juice if you desire to get the right consistency.

Once the mixture is moist and combined roll tablespoons of mixture into balls. For best results refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes or so before frying.

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a good sized heavy based frypan. Over a medium heat cook the balls in two or three batches, tossing in the pan occasionally until golden all over. Set the cooked chickpea balls aside on paper towel.

To make the rich tomato sauce add 1 tbs of olive oil to the same pan; add the onion and cook over a medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, add the garlic and cook for a further minute.Add the wine and allow to simmer for about 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Let the sauce simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.

Add the cayenne and peas, stir to combine, add the chickpea balls and allow to gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly and flavors are rich and spicy. Remove from heat and toss through chopped herbs.

Serve the Spanish Chickpea Balls as a tapas or with Spanish Rice for a main meal.

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