Navarra recipes - the land of diversity

flag-of-navarramap-of-navarraRegion: Navarra, Nafarroa (Basque)

Capital: Pamplona (population: 199,000)

Typical Navarra recipes: Menestra, Cochifrito, Ajoarriero, Trucha a la Navarra

Navarra Maps and guides: Get your travel guide here

running of the bullsNavarra is a small but diverse region of Northern Spain. It borders the mountains of the Pyrenees to the north and the rich wine producing region of La Rioja to the south.  To the west is the Basque Country and to the right is Aragon. The Basque language is widely spoken in the north of the country and Spanish is the main language in the south.

This diversity of culture is reflected in the food of the region. The mountainous areas produce lamb of excellent quality resulting in native Navarra recipe dishes such as cochifrito; where the lamb is fried, and chilindron (also a popular dish in Aragon where chicken is sometimes used instead of lamb); which sees the meat stewed with the wonderful local red peppers. Lamb is also cooked in the traditional Basque way; where it is simply grilled to perfection over hot coals.puente-la-reina

The rivers of the Pyrenees produce superb brown trout which is cooked a la Navarra which involves frying the fish wrapped in ham and often stuffing them with ham and seasonal herbs. This Navarra recipe is popular in other parts of Spain, especially in Galicia.

Navarra is well known for the high quality white asparagus that is grown by the banks of the river Ebro and is protected by its own Denominacion de Origen. It is a popular ingredient in many Navarra recipes and is considered to be the best in Europe if not the world. The very best asparagus is pure white due to the careful growing process that ensures that the plant hearts remain underground and unaffected by sunlight; the result is a vegetable that has a perfectly smooth texture that almost melts in the mouth and a slightly bitter but creamy flavour. Once harvested the versatile asparagus is either sold fresh or preserved in jars and cans; it is extremely low calorie and can be consumed hot or cold in a variety of dishes.white asparagus

The area also produces other speciality vegetables that feature prominently in Navarra recipes such as the small, pointed piquillo peppers from the Lodosa Denominacion de Origen that are roasted and then sold in jars and the geographically protected Tudela artichokes.

The Roncal valley in the north of the region produces one of the most highly-rated cheeses in all of Spain. Roncal was the first cheese to be granted Denominacion de Origen status in 1981 and is made between December and July using ewe's milk from the Lacha and Rasa breeds of sheep. It is a firm cheese with a sharp, nutty and slightly buttery flavour and pairs well with many Navarra recipes and wines.roncal cheese

Pamplona is the capital city of Navarra and hosts the San Fermin festival which is held every year from July 6-14. The festival is famous for it's encierros (or bull-runs); a practice which involves running with a group of bulls that have been released in the city streets. This tradition dates back to the 14th century when cattle were transported through the streets to sell at the local market and men would walk amongst the cattle to hurry them along. This eventually evolved into a competition and it's popularity spread all across Spain and remains hugely popular to this day; the Pamplona events are broadcast live on Spanish TV. Each year, many people are injured during the event and people have occasionally been killed during the run.

For a selection of some of the best restaurants Navarra has to offer please click here: www.restaurantesdelreyno.com

Navarra recipes

Chilindron

Menestra

White asparagus recipe

Trucha a la Navarra

Salmon with asparagus

Banderillas

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