14 Authentic Spanish Tapas Fit for a Fiesta
Authentic Spanish tapas are served as complimentary small plates with each beverage ordered in Spain. As you enjoy happy hour, your taste buds are sated and bellies warmed with the savory (and sometimes spicy) bites. Toasted baguette slices are often served with Manchego cheese and heavenly thin, melt-in-your mouth slices of Jamón Ibérico, a cured ham produced in Spain and Portugal and hailed as the finest ham in the world. And nearly every Spanish table celebrates the region's legendary olive, whether the bright green marinated fruits are served as an appetizer. Other common dishes celebrate Spain's culinary traditions like seafood paella, a colorful rice dish with saffron and a medley of fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, and chorizo; tortilla Espanola, a signature dish of Spain made of potato-filled omelet; and ajo blanco, garlic and Marcona almonds' incredibly creamy answer to gazpacho. Tapas are perfect for laid-back gatherings. Many of these mouthwatering morsels and delectable dishes can be made ahead and served in flights throughout the evening. Whip up a few sangrias to enjoy with your favorite tapas at your own Spanish-inspired soiree. Salud!
Spanish Garlic Toast
In most Spanish establishments, you'll receive at least one toasted bread dish topped with some combination of cheese, tomatoes, and garlic. This
tomato-and-garlic version is a classic example. "When we lived in Barcelona we used to eat this all the time," says Dangerus Chef. "Warning! Everyone
has to eat this."
Spanish Stuffed Olive Tapas with Feta
True to Spanish culinary form, this tapas dish puts the beloved olive front and center, stuffing it with a mixture of feta cheese, onion, garlic and olive oil,
along with an almond. "It's easy to make but it takes some time to stuff those olives," says Hanni. "The bigger the olives, the easier the stuffing."
This dish, largely popular in the Basque region of Spain, is a bite-sized combo of meats, cheese, and vegetables, usually held together by a "pintxo," or
skewer. This ultra-briny rendition combines peppers, anchovies, and olives. "Gilda skewers are one of the most famous Basque pintxos (tapas)," explains
barbara. "In Spain, they are made with anchovies, mancanilla olives (ideally stuffed with anchovies), and pickled piparra peppers, a Basque pepper,
which are hard to find [in the U.S.]. Use pepperoncini instead."
Chickpeas and Chorizo
With its warm, seasoned beans and meat, this dish is like Spanish comfort food. "Chickpeas and chorizo is a classic Spanish dish sometimes served as tapas and sometimes as a full stew," says Pete Zaria of the easily
customizable dish. "This recipe adds potatoes to make it a little more hearty as a full meal. Serve with a citrus-and-fennel salad and some crusty bread for
a full meal. I like to leave the garlic cloves whole and spread the cloves on the bread during meal. If you don't, then reduce [the amount of] garlic, but chop and don't add until after liquid has been added or it may scorch."
Ajo Blanco con Uvas
Ajo blanco is a chilled garlic and almond soup. The nuttiness of the almond plays "yin" to the earthy, spicy bite of the garlic's "yang" and the striking
juxtaposition is made complete with a creamy finish. Serve it in the authentic manner, with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and along with grapes or
Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Tortilla)
A beloved national dish of eggs cooked omelet-style with layers of thinly-sliced fried potatoes and sometimes additions like onions, peppers, ham, and
herbs. "Unlike most omelets, a Spanish tortilla is served at room temperature," says sjmoraes. "It is the classic tapa, prepared all over Spain."
Authentic Seafood Paella
Eateries and bars across Spain regularly serve small plates piled high with this Spanish staple of rice and seafood. This version is demonstrated by a professional chef and is chock-full of fresh seafood, including shrimp, clams and calamari, as well as a tantalizing mix of flavorful spices and herbs.
Valencian Savory Empanadas
Whether it's Asian dumplings, Mexican tacos, British hand pies (Cornish pasties), or Indian Samosas, savory meat mixtures held in bread-like vessels transcend cultures. And the Valencian empanada is no exception: "Small pockets of dough filled with ham, onion, tomatoes, parsley and hard-boiled eggs," says IIJUAN12. "These are as tasty as they are easy and impressive."
Avocado and Tuna Tapas
This bright, fresh tapa recipe is perfect for hot, summer days. "Living in Spain, I have come across a literal plethora of tapas. This is a light, healthy tapa that goes best with crisp white wines and crunchy bread," says La Cocina de Redondita. "This recipe is great for experimenting with a variety of different vegetables, spices and vinegars."
Artichokes with Saffron and Almonds
A simple Spanish mixture of spring's harvest, this side dish is a sleeper hit. "These artichokes are sauteed with figs, saffron and Marcona almonds," says Talking Head. "This is a perfect spring recipe sure to please the crowd. Garnish the finished dish with sliced olives and a few saffron strands."
"I had this at a tapas bar in Spain way back and was able to figure out how to mimic it," says DC Girly Girl. The warm nutmeg and cinnamon beautifully finishes off this simmered tomato-based mélange, which can be served hot or cold and is perfect for dipping and scooping with toast points on brisk fall days.
Chef John's Patatas Bravas
"These fried potatoes are fiercely textured, fiercely flavored, fiercely presented, and fiercely enjoyed. How fierce is really up to you and your inner Spaniard," says Chef John. "There are as many patatas bravas recipes as homes in Spain, and this is nothing more than my latest rendition." Chef John's humility belies his talent for making this tasty potato dish.
Spanish Pan-Fried Shrimp with Garlic
Sometimes simplicity allows your main ingredient to really sing. This recipe doesn't compete with the succulent fresh shrimp. "A favorite tapas dish, these Spanish shrimp are infused with the flavors of garlic, olive oil and chile peppers," says Luis Luna. "Easy and authentic! Use as many chile peppers as you can take."
Espinacas con Garbanzos
A delicacy mastered in Andalusia, Spinach and Chickpeas, or "Espinacas con Garbanzos," incorporates an exquisite flavor combination of spices, garlic, and vinegar that culminates in a to-die-for Spanish soul-food dish. "This recipe can be eaten as a side dish or as a light meal. It's great with a grilled pork chop and some crusty bread," says Vanessa Moore. "Its origins date back to North African cultures and it's one of the very popular choices of tapas in Seville's bars."