Valencia, the land of oranges, paella, and fideuà—and where seafood is king—offers plenty of inspiration for food lovers who enjoy cooking at home. Sure, Madrid and Barcelona are the cool kids on the block, but don’t underestimate the cuisine from Spain’s third-largest city. Our menu highlights the classics of Valencian cuisine but with a modern twist. These dishes are ideal for the hot days of summer, when all you crave are clean, bright flavors that leave you satisfied but not uncomfortably stuffed.
Valencian oranges are sweet, meaty, and full of juice, so they’re the perfect vehicle for mimosas. We like ours heavy on the Cava with a strong orange taste. Taking a few extra moments to rim the glasses with sugar and zest transforms a standard classic into something more special.
Mix zest and sugar in a small bowl. Dip rim of glass in juice and then in sugar mixture. Add 2 oz. of juice and add 5 oz. of Cava to each glass.
Wandering through cobblestone streets and ducking into narrow bars to sample endless wine and tapas are a highlight of any trip to Spain. The beauty of tapas is their simple, satisfying deliciousness, which this dish epitomizes. The key is to buy the best shrimp you can find and, if your fishmonger will oblige, have him clean and devein the shrimp (which will save time you’d rather be spending sipping wine and enjoying your company).
In a large bowl, add shrimp, oil, garlic, and paprika and mix well. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and place half in pan. Cook for 3 minutes on either side, until just cooked through, and remove from pan. Add remaining shrimp and repeat process. Add lemon juice, parsley, and chives to pan and bring to a boil. Add shrimp, toss, and serve immediately.
Fideuà is another specialty native to Valencia. At its heart is sofregit, a caramelized combination of onion and tomato that serves as the foundation of the dish. It’s a hearty meal, and the crispy noodles offer a nice contrast in texture to the fish.
Serves: 4 to 6
Bring fish stock to a boil in a large pot, add saffron, and remove from heat. In a large sauté pan on medium, add oil. When oil is shimmering, add onions and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté for 10–12 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté for 4 minutes. Add garlic and paprika and sauté for 1 minute. Season shrimp, add to pan, and sauté for 1 minute. Add fideo and fish stock. Cook for 10 minutes and then add mussels. Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes, until pasta is tender but not mushy. Place pan in broiler and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until fideo is brown and crispy. Sprinkle with parsley, lemon juice, and serve.
After a large meal, this is just the right dessert – it’s light, slightly sweet, and toasted almonds give it a pleasing crunch. If you have extra berries lying around, feel free to mix them with the oranges. If you’re in a really decadent mood, add a tablespoon or two of Grand Marnier to the cream before you whip it to give it an extra punch.
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Grease again and flour it. Cream butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add zest and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add almonds. Add 1/3 of this dry mixture to batter. Mix until just combined. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and mix. Repeat process of alternately adding dry and wet ingredients to batter. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, until top is light golden brown or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Add cream, almond extract, and sugar to bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks have formed, about 2–3 minutes.
Slice cake in half horizontally. Place one generous layer of oranges and juice on bottom half of cake. Spread half of whipped cream on top of orange layer. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Add top layer of cake, press down gently, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut cake into slices and serve each slice with a large spoonful of whipped cream, oranges, and dusting of almonds.
Are your children’s friends coming over after work and you’re pressed for time to cook? Marinate the chicken in the morning (the flavors will get better the longer it sits), so all you have to do it cook the chicken and finish the sauce when you get home.
In a large bowl, add chicken, oil, chili flakes, garlic, and orange zest. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 8.
In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, add 1–2 tablespoons oil. Season chicken with salt. When pan is hot, add chicken skin-side down. Do not crowd pan or chicken skin will not brown and crisp. Place another sauté pan on top of chicken to act as a weight. Sauté chicken for 5 minutes until it is golden brown. Flip chicken, sauté for an additional 3 minutes, then add orange juice. Simmer for 6–7 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and add honey. Bring to a boil and cook for 3–4 minutes, until sauce has thickened and reduced. Coat chicken with sauce and serve.
Valencia is known as the birthplace of paella; arroz caldoso is paella’s cousin on steroids. The extra liquid in the dish is full of briny lobster flavor, but you can add any fish or shellfish that you prefer.
In a large, heavy sauté or paella pan on medium heat, add oil. When oil is shimmering, add onion, and a healthy pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add red pepper and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, artichokes, and capers, bay leaves and sauté for 2 minutes. Add rice and mix ingredients well. Add wine and saffron and cook for 1 minute. Add fish stock.
Season lobster with salt and pepper. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until fish is cooked through and rice is tender. Add lemon juice and adjust seasoning, if necessary.