The Spanish Mediterranean is one of the best examples of the Mediterranean diet.
Food in the Spanish Mediterranean region is rich in fresh vegetables, beans, almonds nad healthy olive oil, with plenty of fish dishes.
Catalan food is the product of the wonderful Spanish fresh produce, local traditions and French, Italian, Arab, Roman influences with hints of the first Greek settlers. Traditional cooking includes stewed vegetables, rice, pasta, beans, fish stews, chicken casseroles, grilled meat or fish served with alioli, a dressing made with garlic and olive oil, and very creative salt cod based dishes. The place where spinach are sautéed with raisins and pine nuts, is where the innovation is happening, because this is the land of the experimental chefs, and where Mediterranean cooking becomes ultra modern.
Traditional Specialties include: Samfaina (a kind of ratatouille); escalibada (grilled eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables); rice casseroles; rossejat de fideus (toasted pasta casserole); butifarra con monchetas (beans and sausage); duck with pears; rabbit with alioli; mar i muntanya (chicken and shellfish); suquet (fish or seafood in tomato-based sauce); romesco sauce (red pepper sauce with nuts); cannelloni; cocas (topped flatbreads, similar to pizza); crema catalana (similar to crème brûlée)
Rice is at the core of the most characteristic dishes at the Levante region, but paella, the best known of all, is just one just one of its many delicious rice dishes. Seafood, almonds, artichokes, tomatoes, and peppers are local produce, therefore turning up in many local specialties. Since Romans started salt curing fish, mojama (salted tuna) and salted anchovies have had a place in the menus. The region is also the source of turrón (a nougat made from honey, almonds and egg whites), incredible ice-cream in an incredible wide selection of flavors, sorbets and semi-frozen refreshers, including horchata, a made from tiny tubers called chufas.
Traditional specialties include paella; arroz a banda (literally rice to the side, a fish or seafood flavored rice served in two courses); arroz negro (black rice, seasoned with octopus or squid ink); fideuá (pasta paella); all-i-pebre de anguilas (eel in garlic sauce); caldero murciano (rice and seafood casserole from Murcia); ensalada murciana (a salad made with preserved tomatoes); torta de chicharrones (a sweet cake with salty bacon bits); pork shows as incredible black pudding and longanizas (plain white or paprika red sausages, often dried); their own breed of cocas (flatbread with toppings), empanadas and empanadillas (thick pies filled with onions, peppers, tuna or ham and tomato sauce)