The plus side of living so far away from my family (I’m in California; they’re in Mississippi) is that coming home is always cause for celebration. A couple of weekends ago I was in my hometown for just one night, so naturally my foodie father and I started planning our dinner menu a month in advance.
We settled on a Spanish tapas feast. Tapas refer to small plates, or a variety of appetizer dishes served family-style for the table, and it’s a traditional way of dining in Spain. My family and I spent all evening in the kitchen, cooking, standing around and chatting as we nibbled on each dish just as it emerged from the oven or stove.
Next time you’re inviting a crowd over for dinner, mix up a batch of sangria and set out tapas for guests to enjoy. Here are a few recipes to get you started, similar to the ones my family and I enjoyed. I’ve also included some of my own takeaways to simplify preparation. I promise: these dishes will provide all the conversation starters you need!
|Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Spanish HamSalty, cured serrano ham is Spain’s answer to Italian prosciutto, so you’ll taste authentically Spanish flavors in this dish.
Tip: If you can’t find serrano, use prosciutto or regular bacon. I like to sauté minced mushroom stems, bacon, garlic and parsley, and use that as the stuffing for regular button mushrooms.
|Eggplant Salad with Onions and Peppers A combination of roasted eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and onions creates a dish full of flavor and color.
Tip: To move the process along, try simmering the vegetables in a pot on the stove, ratatouille-style.
|Peppers Stuffed with Salt Cod Stuffed peppers are a favorite in Spanish cuisine, and they’re easy to customize.
Tip: Bell peppers and poblanos will work in place of piquillo peppers, and deep frying isn’t necessary. For a lighter option, roast stuffed peppers in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. If you prefer, fill peppers with smashed potatoes, chorizo and a Spanish cheese, like I did.
|Flatbread with Eggplant, Peppers and OlivesFlatbreads are perfect for feeding a crowd, and this one is packed with rich vegetable flavors.
Tip: For easy appetizer serving (and no dough-proofing), simply pile the topping onto toasted crostini.
|Sizzling Shrimp with GarlicShrimp make easy finger food, and notes of sweet paprika and hot pepper flakes bring this dish to life. Bonus: these cook in about 3 minutes.
Tip: Since variety is the spice of life, try squid and scallops in addition to the shrimp.
What’s on your tapas menu? Tell us in the comments!
About the author: Olivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.