The Eastern shores of Spain or the Levant are actually made up of two kingdoms, the Pais Valenciano and Murcia. The Levant is better known for its beach resorts in Valencia and south of it, known as the Costa Blanca.
It’s further recognized as the land of Paella. This famous rice dish may be Spain’s best-known culinary contribution, but it is, nevertheless, native to the Levant.
In the low coastal regions, where the water is abundant, rice has been a staple food for centuries since the Moors introduced its cultivation. Some areas in the Levant area receive an average rainfall lower than some parts of the Sahara Desert.
The land is well irrigated with a complex irrigation system still in use dating back to the Moors also, and for their innovative know-how, this area is sometimes called the “market basket.” Of course, the Valencia province is famous for its oranges, but it also contains a potpourri of many other fruits and vegetables, including spinach.
Spinach, or as it is known in Spain, “espinaca,” arrived around the year 1100. Over the next century, spinach spread throughout Europe, primarily in monastery gardens.
The Rice and Spinach “Meatballs” can be served as tapas (appetizers) or a main entrée. In the Valencia region, it is served during the summer months, as it can be prepared in advance to avoid the midday heat. It is delicious, with or without the sauce.