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Spanish Recipes from the Alpujarras (Granada)

IVU News - Issue 3 - 1998

L’Atelier Vegetarian Centre, Apartado Postal nº 126, 18400 Orgiva, Granada
Tel. +34 958 857501

Granada, the prized “pomegranate” or bastion founded by the Moors in the 8th century which held the Spanish kings at bay until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile led to the union of Spain in 1492, is one of the most enchanting of the country’s southern provinces where the richness and beauty of a land which feeds both the body and the imagination blends with the exotic and mystical magic of the past in a medley of distinctly Spanish flavours.

The agricultural, architectural and artistic achievements of the Moors, like their excellent irrigation schemes and the magnificent palaces of the Alhambra and the Generalife, are eloquent examples of the remarkable engineering skills which allowed agriculture and civilisation to flourish at a time when the greater part of Europe was still in a state of barbarism.

A more recent civilising dietary influence has been that of French-trained international chef Jean-Claude Juston, who formerly ran the vegetarian café at the prestigious London School of Economics. His arrival in the remote and picturesque old Moorish enclave of Mecinilla in the Alpujarras mountains has boosted local interest in the vegetarian way of life and motivated a number of people involved with institutional catering to learn how to cook vegetarian and vegan meals at L’Atelier Vegetarian Centre, a 16th century house with a superb view of the mountains where Jean-Claude welcomes anyone wishing to be introduced to the pleasures and benefits of gourmet green cuisine or simply to sample the food and enjoy the invigorating mountain walks at a very moderate cost.

The following vegan recipes from various parts of Spain, courtesy of L’Atelier, are no more than a small sample of the rich variety of culinary temptations that may be enjoyed without harm to anyone as part of a humane and civilised diet.

-- Francisco Martín

[for further details - also in French and Spansh - see: ]

Tempeh al ajillo (Tempeh with garlic)

  • 500 gr. tempeh (or tofu, or seitan)
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned flour
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic chopped or grated
  • 1 glass dry sherry (optional), salt and pepper.
Cut the tempeh into ten slices and dust with flour. Heat olive oil. Shallow fry tempeh and garlic until they are well browned. Add the sherry and bubble it up. Leave to simmer approximately ten minutes. Eat with rice or salad.

Pez de tierra (Land fish)

An old recipe from Peñíscola, Spain.
  • Aubergine
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper
Chop ingredients and fry in olive oil until the aubergine changes colour. Mash with a fork or blender. Eat warm, as a pâté, with bread.

Pinchitos morunos (Moorish kebabs)

For eight or ten people.
  • 200 gr. seitan
  • 200 gr. tofu
  • 200 gr. tempeh
  • one glass olive oil
  • half teaspoon cumin
  • one teaspoon paprika
  • half teaspoon turmeric
  • half teaspoon thyme
  • one teaspoon chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • skewers and bread
Soak all the herbs in olive oil. Add tofu, seitan, tempeh and spices. Marinate overnight. Put on skewers and barbecue. Delicious!

Raw onion, tomato, mushroom, courgette, etc., can be added to the skewers.

Salmorejo (A traditional summer recipe from Córdoba).

For four people.
  • 500 gr. bread from the day before
  • 2 kg. peeled tomatoes. one
  • glass olive oil
  • two cloves garlic
  • salt
Blend the ingredients together. In Córdoba, people do not use the crust of the bread or the pips from the tomatoes, but if in a hurry it still works.

Eat with bread fried in olive oil, or toast. Decorate with chopped parsley and slices of shallow fried seitan or arame seaweed.

Alternative salad dressing (from Madrid).

  • one third unrefined sesame oil
  • one third unrefined corn oil
  • one third apple vinegar
  • half teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • one teaspoon whole mustard
Shake very well. Use with avocado, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, apple, mango, papaya, etc.

Patatas con setas (Potatoes with oyster mushrooms)

(a traditional recipe from Castilla y León).
  • one bay leaf
  • one chopped onion
  • two cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 500 gr. potatoes
  • 250 gr. oyster mushrooms
  • Cuban rum
  • vegetable stock,
  • salt and pepper
1. Wash each potato and cut into four pieces, brush with olive oil, paint with salt and mixed herbs and bake on the top shelf of a hot oven (mark 6) for 13 hours.

2. Fry onions in olive oil with garlic and bay leaf. When onions change colour, add mushrooms. Shallow fry and cover with stock. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Add potatoes and flambé with Cuban rum.

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