This weekend we're (metaphorically) packing our bags and heading to the orange blossom-scented calles of Spain's third largest city, Valencia. Our guide for the weekend will be Rick Stein and his faithful exploration of Spanish cuisine, Rick Stein's Spain. In the chapter on the food of Valencia and the wider Valencian region there is a great deal for Rick to write home about, from the city's bustling and beautiful Mercado Central, to the region's world-famous oranges and myriad rice dishes. Indeed, as the birthplace of Spain's most renowned dish, paella, there is little doubt over Valencia's credentials as a leading destination for food lovers. Though we may not be able to get our paella fix in Valencia just yet, we can enlist the help of the recipes in Rick Stein's Spain to help us recreate an authentic version of this dish, along with two other Valencian classics from the book, for a true taste of this majestic city at home.
Combining sweet and salty flavours, this vibrant salt cod salad gives Valencian oranges a leading role. Light and simple to throw together, it'll make for a laid-back and refreshing start to your meal.
No Valencian feast would be complete without the jewel in the region's culinary crown and no plate of food is more likely to transport you from your kitchen table to Spain. As Rick stresses in his authentic recipe, it is much easier than you might assume to create a paella and yet it is layered with complex and intense flavours and has a truly celebratory feel.
Flan, or crème caramel as it is more widely recognised in the UK, is a dessert found across Spain, but this version, made using the juice of local oranges instead of milk, is particular to Valencia. A brilliant dairy-free dessert, it manages to retain the creamy texture of a milk-based flan but with the added fragrance and intensity of orange. Served cold, it is the perfect light and cooling end to your Spanish feast.