If you’re looking for some family meal time inspiration, how about an at home Tapas party? What I like about Tapas is that you can approach it with a no fuss attitude. It can be completely stress free, especially as there are so many ready to eat products that arrange together to make a great spread for a summer evening. And you could even dress up with a Spanish theme and pretend you are on holiday! Most dishes can be easily prepared in advance to create an enticing spread of small colourful plates – with something for every dietary taste and requirement. See a selection of tapas recipes here. I would recommend preparing no more than four or five dishes to serve alongside some nibbles like Marcona almonds, olives (try to find Perello Gordal, they come from Seville and are absolutely delicious), a selection of Charcuterie and some cheese.
Charcuterie is a staple in any classic Tapas spread. Iberico is the king of hams followed by Serrano. The difference between Iberico and Serrano is that Iberico ham pigs have a diet based almost entirely on acorn and the hams are cured for longer than Serrano. Some other cold meats not to be missed are Lomo Iberico, Salchichon and cured Chorizo sausage.
If you like cheese, Manchego or Mahon are good choices and if you like blue cheese, search for Picos de Europa which is similar to Roquefort.
Tapas is not meant to be diet food and a lot of dishes rely heavily on carbohydrates or being deep fried or even both! Contrary to popular belief, the national dish of Spain is not Paella but is in fact Spanish omelette or tortilla. This is something that you will find in almost every bar or restaurant all over the country. The key to a successful tortilla is to “soak” all the cooked ingredients (onions and potatoes) for a few minutes in the bowl of seasoned and beaten eggs for a few minutes before finishing off cooking in the frying pan. A tortilla can be made well in advance and will last in the fridge for three days without any issues.
As I mentioned earlier, frying is a very common cooking method when making tapas. Croquetas are such a crowd pleaser and once shaped, they can be easily frozen for cooking later. Fried fish such as squid for example, is normally coated in chickpea flour rather than wheat flour before frying as this gives a crispier texture.
When it comes to fish, braised Octopus or garlic prawns are a couple of good options to consider. If you are too scared to cook Octopus, a Miele steam oven would be one of the best fail safe ways to cook it and keep it succulent.
Grilled padron peppers or piquillo peppers gently warmed up in some olive oil and garlic are another two dishes which are easy to cook and assemble for your next gathering.
To drink, I like serving a twist on a traditional sangria. Rather than making yours with red wine, make a summery version with Cava. Per each bottle of Cava, add a large glass of orange juice, together with equal smaller measures of lemonade and Cointreau or Brandy and then add some seasonal fruits like peaches and berries for a delicious tipple.