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Catalan recipes

The traditional Catalan kitchen

One of the biggest adjustments you may have to make when moving to Barcelona is the cuisine. Even if you have traveled other places in Spain, the cuisine in Catalonia is very different. With produce, meat and fish at the heart of Catalan cuisine, it is an adjustment worth making.

 

Cooking authentic food at home can be hard, especially getting the right ingredients and following the right Catalan recipes. We have created a guide to understanding Catalan cuisine, including some Catalan recipes to help you get started.

This article is written by LetsCook.

 

Catalan recipes

Traditional Catalan cuisine: basic ingredients

Catalan cuisine has a rich and unique history, and it is part of what makes Catalonia special from its surrounding regions. Whether you are cooking at home or going out to restaurants and cafeterias, it is important to understand some background of the culture and its food. 

 

Catalan ingredients are based on the season and local availability of meat, fish and produce. Tomatoes, potatoes, artichokes, aubergines, onions, artisan bread, sausage, chicken, veal and apples are common ingredients in the cuisine.

 

Depending on the season, you will see some ingredients more than others. The spring is when strawberries, peas and mussels color your plate. Summer means pastries, chocolate and cava. Autumn brings chestnuts and the traditional panellets dessert. In the cold months, meat and vegetables make stews, while almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, peppers, onions and salted fish are the base ingredients for even more traditional winter dishes.

Meal schedule

In Barcelona, three meals are traditionally spread out throughout the day. Breakfast is between 08:00 and 10:30, lunch is between 13:30 and 15:30 and dinner is between 21:00 and 23:30. There are also usually mid-meal snacks between 11:00-12:30 and 17:00-18:30.

Menu del dÍa

For meals you decide to eat outside of the home, you may see the term “menu del dia”, meaning “menu of the day”. This is a large, economical meal — served at lunch — that includes the starter dish, the main dish and a dessert, making it typically the biggest meal of the day.

Catalan dishes

Bikini

The term Bikini (also known as a tosti in some other countries) describes a hot ham & cheese sandwich in Catalonia. However, not everyone is aware of the reason behind the iconic Bikini sandwich’s name. Back in 1953, a dancing hall called ‘La Sala Bikini’ with a terrace opened on Avenida Diagonal. This dancing hall offered a sandwich that instantly became a hit. The ham & cheese sandwich combination became increasingly popular and extended beyond the walls of the original dancing hall. People would go out to random bars and restaurants in Barcelona and ask for the sandwich they make at ‘Bikini’. Eventually, everyone started to call it the bikini sandwich.

catalan-recipes-bikini

Pa amb Tomàquet

Pa amb Tomàquet is part of the holy grail of Catalan gastronomy. It’s probably the most cherished dish by the Catalan people and the others who try it. Pa amb Tomàquet is a very simple dish that consists of a slice of glass bread with garlic and tomato rubbed over it. To finish it off, it’s topped with olive oil. This simple yet amazing dish is a go-to for many Catalan people.

catalan-recipes-pa-amb-tomaquet

Calçotada

Those visiting Barcelona in springtime may have noticed an unusual amount of green onions (known as ‘calçots’ in Catalan) being sold in the streets. This is part of an annual festival known as Calçotada.

 

The focal point of the meal is – obviously – the fresh calçots, that are barbecued and then dipped in a nutty romesco sauce (be sure to remove the charred outer layer of the onion before dipping).

 

It is possible to find places to celebrate the beloved calçot inside Barcelona, but it is recommended to try one of the barbecues in the countryside, such as Castelldefels, Sitges or Valls.

Crema Catalana

Also called “crema cremada” in Catalan cuisine, meaning “burnt cream”, this custard dish can be found all over Spain, but you can trace its roots to the Catalan kitchen. Dating back to the 14th century, this dish has a base of milk and is flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest.

 

You may be thinking this dish looks familiar, but do not get it confused with crème brûlée. The French dessert is made with cream, which has a higher milkfat content than the milk-based crema catalana. Based on historical cook books and Catalan recipes, the  delicacy is 300 years older than the French one.

Cava

Throughout entire meals, people will sip Cava — a white or rosé sparkling wine made in Spain with a similar process as Champagne but with different grapes. Since 1872, cava has been a staple of local cuisine and serves many purposes. It is sipped at celebrations, weddings, religious occasions, but also at informal gatherings and during meals. 

 

The Penedès wine district is just outside of Barcelona and is where the story of Cava began. For centuries, Cava and Catalan cuisine have been the perfect pairing. 

Differences between the Catalan and Spanish kitchen

Catalans have a very proud culture, and its distinctness can be seen in its food. While Catalan cuisine enjoys classic Spanish dishes like paella and gazpacho, there are some differences in ingredients and combinations.

 

 

In Catalan dishes, you will find meat and fish mixed together, called mar i muntanya, Catalan for sea and mountain. This is not common in the Spanish kitchen. Catalan cuisine also prepares pork sausages differently from other regions, avoiding paprika like in chorizo. You will always find a lot of garlic in Catalan food, and it is one of the main staples of the cuisine. The plant is less common in other parts of Spain.

Catalan recipes: Stewed chicken

Pollo guisado a la Catalana

The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation and has become a highly popular dish in the Catalan gastronomy, both in households and restaurants. It is a comforting and flavourful meal that is typically served as a main course in family lunches, dinners, or on special occasions.

Catalan recipes

Ingredients

  • Chicken fillet
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Bay leaf
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Chicken broth
  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Prunes
  • Rancio wine
  • Parsley

Directions

1. The prunes

  • Cut each prunes lengthwise into 3-4 pieces.
  • Heat ‘rancio’ wine in a small pot on the stove, or in a glass in the microwave. (Do not boil.) Remove from heat.
  • Submerge the prunes into the warm wine and set aside.

2. Mis en place:

  • Slice onion thinly.
  • Peel and cut potato into 2 cm cubes.
  • Cut carrot into coins.
  • Cut chicken into pieces of 4 cm approx and salt them.
  • Chop parsley

3. The stew (I):

  • Heat a dash of oil in a frying pan, or large pot. Brown chicken on all sides over high heat.
  • Add onion and garlic (unpeeled). Sauté everything over medium heat for about 5 min.
  • Add cinnamon and prunes with wine to the stew.
  • Stir constantly and let the wine reduce.

4. The stew (II):

  • Add potato, carrot and bay leaf.
  • Add broth and water to just cover the chicken and vegetables.
  • Cover with a lid and let simmer until the chicken and vegetables are tender, about 10 min.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide between plates and finish with parsley on top.

Catalan recipes: Caramelised pork

Solomillo de cerdo caramelizado con frutos secos y salsa de naranja

It is believed that this dish originated in Valencia, a region known for its citrus fruits. The combination of pork and sauce based on orange juice creates a perfect balance of sweet and savoury flavours, making it a popular Catalan recipe.

Catalan recipes

Ingredients

  • Pork tenderloin
  • Orange
  • Prunes
  • Hazelnuts
  • Onion
  • Rice
  • Green beans
  • Honey
  • Soy sauce
  • Maicena

Directions

1. Mis en place:

  • Squeeze oranges and cut the prunes in half, lengthwise. Place prunes in the juice.
  • Slice onion thinly.
  • Cut hazelnuts in half.
  • Remove the ends of the green beans

2. The rice:

  • In a pot, place rice with water and a pinch of salt. 2 cups of water for each cup of rice. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and let simmer for 10-15 min or until the water has been absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat and set aside with the lid on.

3. The beans:

  • Bring water with a pinch of salt to a boil.
  • Add beans to the water when it’s boiling and wait until it boils again. Remove from the heat and leave in the water for 3 min.
  • Drain and set aside in the pot, covered with a lid.

4. The pork tenderloin (I):

  • Make the glaze by mixing soy sauce with honey.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and sear the pork tenderloin over medium-high heat on all sides until golden.
  • Lower the heat. “Paint” the meat with the glaze, turn it around in the pan until it is glazed (not burned), 1-2min.
  • Set aside on a plate and cover with a lid or another plate to keep it warm.

5. The sauce:

  • Heat oil in the same frying pan and fry onion until golden. Add hazelnuts and plums with juice. Stir and let the liquid reduce slightly, for approx. 1-2 min.
  • In a glass, mix water with cornstarch. 150ml of water for each tablespoon of cornstarch. Add little by little to the pan, stirring, until the sauce begins to thicken. You’ll not use all the mixture.

6. The pork tenderloin (II):

  • Slice pork tenderloin into 2-3 cm pieces and add them to the sauce. Cover the frying pan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat.
  • After 2 min, turn the pork medallions over and cook for another 2 min until the meat is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice, beans and sauce.

About LetsCook

LetsCook is an ingredient delivery service that portions out ingredients depending on the recipe you select and the number of people you want to feed. They then deliver the fresh, local ingredients to your doorstep. Easy!

 

While LetsCook brings the ingredients and convenient delivery, Grandma’s Cooking Barcelona bring the authentic Catalan recipes. Together, you get to make local cuisine in your own home without the hassle of grocery shopping or looking through thousands of recipes; Everything is right at your fingertips!

 

Zero food waste and no need to plan or go to the supermarket. Learn and enjoy with LetsCook!

  1. Select the weekly plan that you like the most and the number of days you want to cook our recipes each week.
  2. You can make any change (skip weeks, change meals…) until 23:59 every Friday.
  3. At the beginning of the week you receive your recipes and the measured ingredients so you can cook healthy and delicious meals.

About Grandma's Cooking Barcelona

Grandma’s Cooking Barcelona is a social impact association that gathers more than 20 Grandmas and Grandpas ready to share their rich culinary knowledge and Catalan recipes with groups and companies.

 

This great community organizes activities and experiences around a healthy, tasty, and simple diet.

More about Catalan culture

More about Catalan food

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