In Quebec, we are fortunate to enjoy fresh and local food throughout the year. There’s nothing quite like savoring seasonal produce grown by local farmers! In this spirit, we present a guide to seasonal vegetables that will add a touch of freshness to your Spanish cuisine, Marisol style.
Spring: Mushrooms and Asparagus
Starting in April, mushroom picking season begins. Whether it’s white mushrooms, creminis, or special varieties like shiitakes or oyster mushrooms, they add a perfect meaty texture to vegan paellas. Goodbye to bland and texture-less paellas! Marisol particularly enjoys the rich and complex flavors of these foods, with which she also prepares an excellent cream of mushroom soup.
Asparagus also takes the spotlight in spring. Cut into halves or thirds, they add a crunchy and flavorful touch to paellas. Opt for green asparagus for a more pronounced and sweet taste, white asparagus for a milder flavor, and wild asparagus to explore more bitter flavors.
Summer: Tomatoes, Herbs, Beans, Peppers, and Eggplants
Tomatoes, which are easy to grow at home, reach their peak in July. They are an essential ingredient in many Spanish recipes, including sofrito. Marisol often uses Roma tomatoes in her cooking, as they contain less water and are easier to grate.
|What is sofrito?|
Sofrito, meaning “fried” in English, is a Spanish sauce used as a base in many dishes such as stews, soups, and paellas. Depending on the region, it consists of ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs, which are sautéed in olive oil until caramelized. Marisol always starts her paella preparation with homemade sofrito!
Summer is also the time for herbs. Enjoy basil, coriander, parsley, and even thyme to add color and flavor to your dishes. But did you know that rosemary is actually the most commonly used herb in paella preparation? It’s an iconic ingredient in traditional Valencian paellas. Marisol likes to add it to the meat and vegetables at the beginning of cooking for a more pronounced taste, but sometimes she uses it purely for decoration when seeking a milder flavor.
Among other summer vegetables to add to your paella, you’ll find beans and peppers. Beans add freshness and crunch to your dish. A mix of yellow and green beans works wonders in adding color to your paella! In Spain, they often use a specific type of bean called judía ferraduraj, which unfortunately doesn’t grow in Quebec. But fear not, regular beans make a perfect substitute! On the other hand, peppers, in season from late July to late October, are an essential ingredient for Marisol. She uses them in her paellas, sometimes fresh, sometimes roasted and marinated. She often cooks with red peppers, finding them sweeter.
Autumn and Winter: Squash and Cabbage
In autumn and winter, squash takes the spotlight. Take advantage of pumpkin season to prepare a delicious soup as an appetizer before enjoying your paella. You can also add butternut squash or pumpkin to your paella to give it an autumnal touch inspired by Italian risottos.
Additionally, this is also the season for cabbage, which is harvested after the first frosts of autumn. Let yourself be seduced by the variety of available cabbages (red cabbage, white cabbage, Brussels sprouts, napa cabbage, and more!) and explore multiple ways to incorporate them into Spanish cuisine. For example, you can try caldo gallego, a traditional Galician soup made with white cabbage, beans, potatoes, and garnished with chorizo sausage or pancetta.
Be inspired by seasonal vegetables to create healthy and flavorful dishes while supporting the local economy. We can’t wait to discover your culinary creations!