It is much entwined in the culture to eat meat and fish, especially when it comes to tapas. Even some of the things which seem safe, like Manchego cheese, are not strictly vegetarian.
This makes me sad because I don’t want vegetarians to miss out on the fantastic food that Spain has to offer.
But it was on a recent trip to Canarian-Spanish restaurant La Bandera, where I realised there were a plethora of delicious tapas dishes out there which are vegetarian and vegan-friendly that lies beyond just a bit of bread and some olives.
Take, for example, the Pan Con Tomate, which is beautiful and naturally vegan made with the freshest tomatoes La Bandera can get their hands on alongside garlic, sea salt and plenty of olive oil.
The Mediterranea Board, on the other hand, will have you weak at the knees. Roasted seasonal vegetables like artichokes, peppers and aubergine are served alongside olive oil, cured chilli peppers with a liberal seasoning of Mediterranean herbs. This dish is vegetarian and vegan and is great for sharing.
The delicious (and vegan) Papas Arrugadas are the famous Canarian ‘wrinkle potatoes’ which have been cooked in salt which provides a delicious savoury crust. These come served with the traditional ‘Mojo’ sauces in their green and red varieties.
The beautiful Piquillos Rellenos are stuffed Piquillo peppers filled with mushroom and garlic and topped with a goats cheese cream. I am a meat eater but I never miss these little peppers off my order. If you ask the staff, they will happily remove the cheese sauce so vegans can enjoy these too.
If you are happy to eat eggs, there are a few options out there for you. Pisto con Huevo is basically ratatouille topped with a fried egg and no tapas feast is complete without the lovely Tortilla Espanola – the traditional Spanish omelette made with potatoes and onions.
You will love the Patatas Bravas topped with green aioli and brava sauce– which can both be removed if you would like to make it vegan-friendly. This is perfectly paired with a portion of their Padron Peppers cooked in a hot pan and finished with a delicious scattering of red wine sea salt.
If you want something a little more substantial, you can choose a lovely portion of De la Huerta which is Mediterranean vegetables cooked with Spanish rice and spices which can be made vegan at your request.
Do not miss out on the Pastel de Verduaras either- which is Spain’s answer to a lasagne made with layers of aubergine with cheesy béchamel and a piquillo pepper sauce.
Naturally, all the side dishes are both vegetarian and vegan (just make sure to ask them to cook them in oil rather than butter if you want them to be animal-free) and just make sure to avoid the Escaldon which contains fish stock.
The main point to take away from La Bandera, is their staff are happy to help. Let them know what your dietary requirements are and they would be honoured to advise, swap and adapt dishes on the menu to suit your needs so everyone can have a fantastic experience of true Spanish food.
So meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike, go and book in with La Bandera and enjoy the true taste of Spain.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester, M2 6EQ
0161 833 9019