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Seasonal Vegetables in Spain | Know-how to Eat like a Local

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It’s easy to observe the seasons on your plate in Spain because all the market stall holders, greengrocers, chefs and home cooks buy seasonal vegetables that are not only tastier but cheaper too! If you want to order the best of Spain’s seasonal vegetable dishes when travelling in Spain, here is our guide to what’s in season when.

Seasonal Vegetables in Spain

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Everything looks so fresh and tasty – and you’ll only find what’s seasonal also! Photo credit: Big Dave Diode via photopin cc

Artichokes – Alcachofas
In Season: Dec – May

Usually eaten fresh, although you’ll also find jars of preserved artichokes in all top delis in Spain. When dining out, you’ll find them stir-fried, baked, stuffed with jamon, in a Spanish tortilla, and fried in a tempura like batter. ‘Menestra’ is a stirfry or stew consisting of peas and green beans and artichokes and whatever else is in season. The ‘Blanca de Tudela’ variety of artichoke is the best known in Spain and is found in La Rioja where you can enjoy it in a vinaigrette as an appetiser.

Asparagus Green/White – Esparrago Triguero/Blanco
Green is in Season: Mar & Apr. White is in Season: Apr – June

When reading a menu, unless you see the word ‘triguero’ the word asparagus refers to the white version – which is revered here in Spain and served in salads or on its own with mayonnaise or a vinaigrette. The green is also special and tends to appear when served with char-grilled vegetables known as ‘verduras a la parrilla’. You’ll also find a cream of asparagus soup on some menus. In Andalusia, green asparagus can be served with peas or a poached or fried egg – with the asparagus tips serving as soldiers to dip in to the yolk – delicious! The white asparagus from the Navarra region is especially prized in Spain.

Aubergine/Eggplant – Berenjena
In Season: May – Nov

Often sliced in half lengthways (like a baguette) and stuffed with mushrooms and béchamel sauce, rice or even a minced meat – Spain’s aubergines are bursting with flavour. We also enjoy them sliced in circles and fried in a tempura style batter served with ali oli. In Catalonia, try the ‘escalivada’ which is a chargrilled combination of peppers, tomatoes and aubergine.

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Raf tomatoes and beetroot with a healthy drizzle of olive oil on each – simple and delicious! photo credit: Ensalada de Remolacha cocida al vacío y tomate raf via photopin (license)

Beetroot – Remolacha
In Season: 12 months of the year

Although this vegetable grows well, you’ll find it’s not very common on Spain’s menus. We like this recipe for beetroot salmorejo and also add it to salads for extra colour and flavour!

Broad beans – Habas
In Season: Feb – May

Often served with rice or jamon, you can also prepare a broad bean falafel and even a broad bean soup. During the warmer months in Catalonia you’ll find a bean salad consisting of cooked habas, pine nuts, artichokes and onion on menus.

Broccoli – Brecol/Brocoli
In Season: Oct – June

This is another green that makes an appearance in vegetable soups and can crop up deep-fried in tempura-like batter also.

Brussels Sprouts – Coles de Bruselas
In Season: Nov – Feb

You will see these for sale frequently (often while still attached to their stalks) but will rarely see them on a menu at a restaurant.

Button mushroom – Champinon de Paris
In Season: Sept – June

Most popular grilled or fried with lashings of garlic. Mushrooms also work well on a skewer for the BBQ – served up with ali-oli.

Cabbage – Repollo
In Season: Sept – June

Often crops up on menus in Galicia where it’s served in strips with smoked paprika and jamon serrano or bacon.

Cardoon – Cardo
In Season: Nov – Feb

The vegetable can be boiled or par-boiled and fried with almonds, artichokes and even clams and you may also see it baked ‘au gratin’. It looks a bit like a blend of celery and leek when cooked.

Carrots – Zanahorias
In Season: 12 months of the year

You see these grated in many ‘ensaladas mixtas’ and it crops up as an ingredient in many dishes. We love making carrot juice, carrot soup and carrot cake – accompany it with a fresh citrus frosting when serving.

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Greengrocers known as ‘fruterias’ are full of colour – whatever the time of year! photo credit: Delicias de la Huerta – Fruteria via photopin (license)

Cauliflower – Coliflor
In Season: Oct – Mar

This is one that Spanish children detest at school canteens  – often served as cauliflower soup or cauliflower with béchamel sauce  – both of which are actually very tasty for adults. You may come across cauliflower in batter or served with chickpeas.

Celery – Apio
In Season: Oct – May

Unlike their Italian counterparts, Spanish cooks don’t make much use of celery – apart from in a vegetable soup.

Chard/Swiss Chard – Acelga
In Season: 12 months of the year

Acelgas are served sautéed with ham or rice, or stewed with chickpeas or potatoes. Dark green, they give real depth to a plate that might be otherwise lacking in colour.

Chicory/Belgian Endive – Endivias
In Season: Nov – Mar

This bitter member of the chicory family makes for a great canapé – just load up each leaf with young creamy Cabrales cheese or other soft blue cheese. In Catalonia, try it with the Xató sauce made from almonds, hazelnuts, breadcrumbs and a dried nora pepper. Elsewhere, you’ll find it steamed with other greens and then baked in the oven with a béchamel sauce.
Did you know that endives are one of the trickiest vegetables to grow as they are actually grown first in a field and then re-grown in the dark? NB be careful when ordering endives on translated menus as the lettuce-like ‘escarola’ is often translated as endive as well as escarole and frisee.

Courgette/Zucchini – Calabacin
In Season: May – Oct

Often used in soups, it also doubles up as an alternative to pasta sheets in some lasagnas. Courgette is a key component in Pisto Manchego, a Spanish ratatouille popular in Castilla La Mancha.

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Cucumber – just one of the key ingredients in gazpacho! photo credit: Ingredientes para el gazpacho via photopin (license)

Cucumber – Pepino
In Season: June – Sep

Gazpacho wouldn’t be gazpacho without cucumber. It also makes an appearance in salads and even in the odd G&T. NB Although Spain grows cucumbers of all varieties, the long form is generally exported – as the shorter and chunkier rustic version is served here in Spain.

Garlic – Ajo
In Season: 12 months of the year

One of Spain’s most relied upon vegetables – you can taste it in almost everything. Try the ‘sopa de ajo’ garlic soup or ‘ajo blanco’ which is a white gazpacho made from garlic, apple, green grapes or melon and almonds. We like to pick up a string of garlic heads called a ‘ristra’ from the rural country markets to hang in the kitchen.

Green beans – Judias
In Season: Feb – Oct

Not so popular with children, ‘judias’ are a very common starter on menu-del-dias – served in a stew of potatoes and peas or sautéed with chunks of jamon serrano. When green beans aren’t in season, you can buy frozen or opt for French Green Beans which are plentiful from Mar – May.

Green peppers – Pimientos Verdes

In Season: Mar – Nov

One of our favourite Basque recipes is ‘marmitako’ which is a tuna and green pepper hot pot that’s 100% delicious. Green peppers are also found in salads. You will also come across the smaller ‘pimientos de Padron’ which are glorious (although sometimes spicy) peppers that are delicious fried with sea salt.

Leeks – Puerros
In Season: 12 months of the year

Leek soup is very popular and you’ll also find the French cold soup ‘ Vichyssoise’ on offer in hostelries in the hot Summer months. In Winter, check out ‘Porrusalda’ in the Basque Country which is a hot soup made from leek, potato, carrot and chicken stock or dried bacalao.

Lettuce – Lechuga

In Season: 12 months of the year

Not only do you find a great selection of lettuces on restaurant menus but you may not realise that lettuce will often crop up in a vegetable soup also. In the chilled supermarket aisles, you’ll find dozens of pre-washed bags of lettuce including specialty leaves such as corn salad (canonigos) and watercress (berros).

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Don’t knock ’em until you try them – these spring onion-like calcots are amazing!!! photo credit: Fresh via photopin (license)

Onion – Cebolla

In Season: 12 months of the year

Rather like garlic, you’ll find onion in almost every dish in Spain. Caramelised onion is often served with black pudding and with seared tuna dishes. There is a constant debate about whether Spanish tortilla is better with or without onion and the answer generally depends on what way it was prepared by your mother/grandmother etc. BTW Make sure to try calcots – pictured above on the BBQ in Catalonia – they are wonderful combination of onion meets leek!

Peas – Guisantes
In Season: Feb – May

Served frequently as a starter with sautéed dices of jamon serrano. You’ll also find peas in paella (which is a debatable addition) and as a soup – again with chunks of jamon as a garnish. Peas also grace the typical ‘Russian salad’ served in tapas bars which consists of peas, diced potato, carrot and hard-boiled egg with lashings of mayonnaise.

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Patatas bravas are a lifesaver when you are on the go and want something quick. Ask for the sauce on the side if you don’t do spicy. photo credit: casa toni patatas bravas via photopin (license)

Potatoes – Patatas
In Season: Early potatoes are picked from March – June and from then on until Autumn harvesting continues.

Galicia, the Basque Country and la Rioja are the best-known regions for their potatoes on Spain’s mainland. More than 150 varieties are grown across the entire country and each region has its own area of excellence  – for example the area of Valderredible in Cantabria is where we like to source our potatoes. It’s estimated that each Spanish person eats 30 kg of potatoes per year. When you are here, make sure to try all the classics such as Riojan potato and chorizo stew (patatas a la riojana), patatas a la panadera which are baked slices of potato, patatas bravas, Spanish potato omelette (tortilla), boiled potatoes with smoked paprika and bacon (Galicia’s patatas con lacon) and the simple made artisan crisps in stores and markets too! Mashed potato isn’t very common here but you will find a whipped creamy potato puree often served with octopus in Galicia which is wonderful.

Pumpkin – Calabaza
In Season: Oct – June

Pumpkin soup is a popular winter warmer in Spanish households and restaurants and you’ll come across it inside ravioli and cannelloni also.

Radish – Rabano
In Season: 12 months of the year

Have you tried a carpaccio of radish or a radish salad with corn salad (canonigos) and raisins? It’s not so commonplace to find radishes in a salad while eating out in Spain but they are always in the greengrocers and supermarkets and make a great addition to any ‘ensalada’ being prepared at home.

Red cabbage – Lombarda
In Season: Oct – Mar

Not so commonplace but we’ve had wonderful red cabbage salads and a stew of red cabbage served with apple and raisins – which is extra tasty with a splash of red wine vinegar as its being served which gives the cabbage a purple hue as well as a bit of a zing. In Castile, you might come across it prepared with aniseed and potatoes.

Red peppers – Pimientos Rojos
In Season: Sep – Dec

You’ll find red peppers fried, stuffed and possibly our favourite – chargrilled which not only sweetens them ever more but makes them extremely versatile and handy for serving with steaks, in salads and on pintxos in bars. It’s also popular to have them stuffed with meat and rice or bacalao and baked in the oven – perfect party food. In Catalonia, try the ‘samfaina’ which is a braised vegetable sauce from red peppers, onions, tomatoes, aubergine and courgettes. In Aragon, opt for the ‘pimientos a la chilindron’ which is a red pepper, tomato and ham casserole.

seasonal vegetables in Spain

Chickpeas with spinach is one of the more unusual combinations that really works well and is easy to try at home too! photo credit: Cocinando en vivo via photopin (license)

Spinach – Espinacas
In Season: Oct – May

You’ll find fresh spinach for sale everywhere in Spain and when dining out, you’ll see it in salads and more traditionally, served in a chickpea casserole which often features bacalao also. It’s also a popular filling in cannelloni and also crops up in soups and even in tortillas. In Catalonia, its often served with pine nuts and raisins.

Tomatoes – Tomates
In Season: Traditionally Mar – Nov although you’ll find them 12 months of the year.

Although technically a fruit, we have to include the revered tomato here. Each region has a town or village that specialises in great tomatoes – for example – in Cantabria, tomatoes from Galizano are really delicious. Best enjoyed with a slather of olive oil and quality white wine vinegar – we’re also very partial to a homemade gazpacho in which the tomato is a key ingredient. And ‘salmorejo’ from Cordoba is a similar soup prepared with tomatoes, green peppers and garlic. (FYI if you see ‘gazpacho extremeno’ on a menu, the tomatoes have been swapped out for raw egg.) During the colder months, tomatoes are often stuffed with meat and rice and baked. And another classic is to accompany bacalao with a homemade tomato sauce. A leftover stew called ‘ropa vieja’ usually includes tomatoes also. And you must try the Catalan Romescu sauce which features tomatoes, peppers, almonds and hazelnuts. The Basque ‘pipperada’ using tomatoes and peppers is also delicious. And we nearly forgot the Andalusian breakfast of fresh crusty bread smeared with a tomato compote and a drizzle of oil. In Catalonia, you’ll find ‘pa amb tomaquet’ offered while you peruse the menu.

Turnip – Nabos
In Season: Nov – May

The turnip in Spain is reserved almost exclusively for soups.

Wild Mushrooms – Setas
In Season: May

Stir-fried, in a croquette, French omelette, cannelloni or in a soup – these fleshy mushrooms are very tasty. Boletus is one of the most popular varieties which you see on many menus when dining out.

seasonal vegetables in Spain

The food markets are the best place to learn about and source great ingredients. Photo credit: Junjan via photopin (license)

Keen to know more about dining in Spain? You might be interested in our guide to the best Michelin star hotel dining, the art of Spain’s gastronomy, Spain’s unmissable dishes, Spain’s food markets, a guide to travelling as a vegetarian or vegan in Spain, and why we recommend taking a food tour in Spain. And print out this handy month by month seasonal vegetable guide to put in your case.

Tempted to arrange a Private Custom Tour of Spain and Portugal? Then contact the Travel Experts at Totally Spain –  EMAIL US HERE or immediately  REQUEST A FREE CUSTOM TRIP QUOTE HERE  You’ll be glad you did.

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