Top-Notch Tapas: 7 Recipes for a Spanish Culinary Adventure
It is time to take your tastebuds on a little culinary tour — to Spain. While you’re taking yourself on this faux-foodie trip, you might as well experience as many flavors as possible, and there is no better way to do that than with tapas. With tapas, some plates are bigger, and meant to be shared, while others are prepared in bite-sized portions. Either way, they are perfect for appetizers or components of a meal. You can make as many or as few as you’d like. To experience Spain without ever leaving home, here are seven tapas recipes.
1. Gambas Al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic)
You can swap the shrimp in this recipe for scallops or squid if you prefer. No matter what seafood you use to make this Food.com recipe, in the end you’ll have a creamy dish — perfect for dipping bread into.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 -6 garlic cloves, minced (more if you are a garlic lover)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Fresh ground pepper
Directions: In a wide, shallow sauté pan over high heat, warm the olive oil and the Butter; add the shrimp and garlic and sauté quickly for about 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, paprika, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Transfer to a warmed serving dish, sprinkle with the parsley and serve at once.
2. Pan con Tomate (bread with tomato)
Maybe all that previous recipe did was create a hankering for bread. Even if that isn’t the case, you’ll want to make the utterly simple pan con tomate. Good food does not have to be complicated, just follow this recipe by Saveur to find out for yourself.
- 1 (6-inch) piece of baguette, halved lengthwise
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 very ripe large tomato
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
Directions: Heat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Put bread on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Rub garlic over cut surface of bread and drizzle with oil. Put a box grater into a large bowl and grate tomato over largest holes, discarding skin. Spoon grated tomato onto toast and sprinkle with sea salt.
3. Patatas Bravas
Originally from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Spain & Portugal, this recipe for patatas bravas fortunately does not call for a thermometer when frying, making it more accessible than most.
- Olive oil for frying
- 2 pounds new potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup aioli, or to taste (recipe follows)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup safflower or peanut oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons warm water, if using aioli as a sauce
Directions: Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour in olive oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and more oil if necessary to cover them. Cook the potatoes, turning them with tongs as needed, until tender, crispy and brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a baking dish, season with salt and keep warm in the oven.
Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan. Set the pan over low heat, add the flour and paprika and stir for a few minutes. Slowly add the stock, stirring constantly. Add the vinegar and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and season with salt. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the aioli. Serve immediately with the potatoes. Serves 8.
To make the aioli: In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, mustard and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until an emulsion forms. Combine the remaining olive oil and the safflower oil in a pitcher. Drop by drop, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil to the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Once the mixture has thickened, add the remaining oil in a very fine, steady stream, whisking constantly, until all of it has been incorporated.
Stir in the garlic and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. If using the aioli as a sauce, whisk in the warm water to lighten the aioli and make it barely fluid. Makes about 1 cup.
4. Pimientos de Padron
With only three ingredients, this classic tapas dish from Martha Stewart is a simple way to bring a bit of Spain to your table. If you cannot find Padron peppers, substitute with shishito.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces Padron or shishito peppers
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Directions: Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet until almost smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until blistered, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with salt; serve immediately.
5. Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon
If you’ve been hesitant to try one of the previous tapas recipes, perhaps bacon will cause you to change your mind. Food & Wine provided this spicy, smoky creation by Spanish cookbook author Penelope Casas.
- 1 small Spanish chorizo sausage (about 2 ounces), casing removed
- 24 Medjool dates, pitted
- 12 slices of bacon, halved crosswise
Directions: Slice the chorizo crosswise in thirds. Halve each piece lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 lengthwise strips to make a total of 24 small sticks. Tuck a chorizo stick into each date and pinch the dates closed. Wrap a strip of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick. Place the wrapped dates in a large skillet, seam sides down, and sauté, turning until the bacon is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
6. Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Tortilla)
Unlike an omelet you’d find in America, this one from AllRecipes.com is served at room temperature. It is full of traditional Spanish flavors, like ham, and once cut into wedges is perfect for sharing.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced into rings
- 6 eggs
- 1 roasted red pepper, drained and cut into strips
- 3 ounces Spanish serrano ham, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Directions: Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add half of the potato slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. When done, remove potatoes to a large bowl, leaving oil in the skillet. Cook the remaining potatoes in the oil until tender, then add to the bowl, leaving oil in the skillet. Gently toss potatoes with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion rings, and gently cook until soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Spoon onions onto a plate, and allow to cool while the potatoes finish cooking. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in cooled onions, roasted peppers, and serrano ham. Gently fold in cooked potatoes.
Heat the skillet with the reserved oil over low heat. Pour in the egg mixture, and gently cook until the sides have started to set and the bottom has turned golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Loosen the tortilla with a spatula if needed, then carefully slide onto a large plate. Turn the skillet upside down and place onto the uncooked side of the tortilla. Turn the skillet right-side-up, and remove the plate. Return the skillet to the stove, and continue cooking until the tortilla has set in the center, about 4 minutes.
Slide the tortilla onto a serving plate and allow to cool to room temperature. Cut into six wedges and sprinkle with parsley to serve.
7. Sautéed Chorizo With Red Wine
Chorizo pops up in many Spanish dishes, but it can also be enjoyed on its own. Be sure to use a wine you would drink when making this recipe by Fine Cooking.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds cured but soft chorizo, cut into half-inch-thick slices
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- Good country bread, cut into large cubes
Directions: Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo slices and cook until they begin to turn a deep brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is deeply browned all over, about 5 minutes. more. Carefully add the wine (be ready in case it flames) and let it simmer, scraping the pan to deglaze it, until it has reduced somewhat but is still saucy, 1 to 3 min. Pour the chorizo and juices into a dish. Serve with the bread for dipping into the sauce.