Spain has so many marvelous aspects—the water! the chill vibe! the Spaniards!—but the country’s tapas culture is perhaps the best. All around the nation, depending on where you are, you’ll spy plates of the small bites lining beautiful tall bars. They’re the snacks locals have before (or sometimes in lieu of) a larger late dinner. In the Northwest region, it might be platters of chorizo and local Idiazabal cheese, swimming in olive oil. By the sea, like in Barcelona and Valencia, you’ll see platters of prawns, octopus, tuna and other aquatic creatures. Elsewhere, it’s tripe, tortilla, Manchego, anchovies—the list goes on and on.
In Southern Spain, Granada, there’s a wonderful culture of free tapas with every glass of wine, sherry, vermouth, or even sparkling water. They’re salty, and they keep you drinking. What’s not to love? Master a few of the tapas classics, set out a pitcher of sangria, put on a Spanish playlist and recreate the same party vibe at home. Here are some of our favorite tapas recipes, ideally suited to porch, patio, or poolside drinking with friends.
A no-sweat recipe with a five-minute prep time, Marinated Olives with Orange and Chile ideally employ Spanish olives. Go for the popular manzanillo, the big, meaty gordal, or the Arbequina, a popular choice for making olive oil. Just simmer your pick in sherry vinegar, olive oil, chiles and orange slices. Boom: A killer party snack, ready in 15 hands-off minutes you can spend putting your outfit together.
Really good Tortilla Española is nearly impossible to beat, whether you’re serving it with cold white wine to company at happy hour or serving it for brunch. There are a full 10 eggs in there, and the best recipes use plenty of olives oil to get the potatoes nice and tender. This is the recipe, pumped up with salty Manchego cheese, you want.
Remember the charred pepper trend? There’s a reason it took off. Blistered Padrón Peppers are sweet, mild, and so accessible and easy to make. Just throw them into your grill basket or ridged grill pan, dust with sea salt and spritz with lemon, and you’re there. (Pro tip: As is true of their trendy shishito brethren, about 10% of these little beauties run spicy!)
There are many, many paths to croquettes, or as they call them in Spain, croquetas. Yours might use up leftover rice, or bits of bacon and kale. But most of us need a crackin’ recipe to get the best results from these deep-fried little beauties, and Chorizo and Manchego Croquetas are there for us. Swap in what you’ve got for cured pork; these would take nicely to prosciutto, salami, sausage and the like. We quite like them with a garlic-herb aioli on the side.
Because tortilla really is the entertaining gift that keeps on giving, we had to include this Asparagus and Spring Onion Tortilla from North Carolina chef Katie Button, too. It’s such a dreamboat, it uses widely available ingredients like green onions and asparagus, and you can (and will) eat it all the livelong day.
Sustainable, inexpensive, and a delight to eat with more bread than you think you’ll need, mussels can save a busy weeknight. Fino-Steamed Mussels With Chorizo and White Beans are, yes, steamed in sherry, studded with mussels and white beans, and are hearty as all get out. Any extra garlic-lemon aioli can be used for dunking your patatas bravas.
Whether you’re a vermouth, sherry, wine or sangria person, it’s a fair bet that rosé sangria sounds summery as can be to you, too. If you’re hosting a tapas night, consider a big batch of sangria, studded with peaches, grapefruit, raspberries and white Lillet. It’s gorgeous, it’s summery, and it’s easy, just like tapas.