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Spanish Tapas Make Great Cocktail Party Food with Friends

Tapas are delightful small portion meals that originated in Spain and are fairly similar to what we call appetizers or finger food. These light, but delicious nibbles can be made of almost any ingredient and are typically enjoyed by Spaniards with a glass of vino and a good laugh with friends. You can have a few of them as a snack, or you can put together a whole variety of them to take the place of an entire dinner if you like. There are really no strict rules about tapas.
Boasting a tremendous amount of flavor on a small plate (as seen in photo 1), tapas come in a dizzying array of options. They are so popular in Spain, that there are entire restaurants dedicated only to serving tapas. Clearly, the country has a great passion for these tiny morsels of yumminess!

It all began in the Middle Ages with bars serving little freebies like olives, slices of cheese and cured chorizo to its patrons to snack on as they drank. As bars strived to entice customers over their competitors, these petite food gems got more interesting and tasty. Soon, the concept of tapas became a national love affair and you can still go into many bars in Spain today and still grab free morsels of food at taverns.

If you are looking to incorporate a fun concept into your next cocktail party with pals, try a casual tapas theme.  They are super easy to make and don’t require all the time involved in bigger dishes; plus many of them can be made in advance so you can enjoy your guests rather than slaving in the kitchen. Five or six interesting options are all you need for an inventive social gathering that will be sure to get people excited.

Start by making a pitcher (or two!) of Sangria, a light wine cocktail that is fabulously refreshing and sure to have your company begging for more (as seen in photo 2). A bowl of Spanish olives (as seen in photo 3), and array of Spanish cheese and thinly sliced baguette bread slices to dip into olive oil is the perfect base to start folks picking. Then try these options as simple possibilities that are easy to make:

Pan Tomato: If you are familiar with Italian bruschetta, this is the Spanish version of it. Tomato, garlic, and olive oil on a piece of toasted bread pack lots of zest and is healthy to boot.

Tortilla de Patas: In Spain, eggs and potatoes are a plentiful food ingredient so recipes combining the two abound. The famous tortilla is the most ubiquitous of the tapas found, and it’s pretty straight forward to make. It essentially forms a pie shape, and you simply cut small slices to serve to guests. Belly filling!

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce: Who doesn’t love shrimp?! This frightfully simple recipe is sure to elicit smiles from your party goers, and it just takes minutes to cook up (as seen in photo 4). Mussels are another great seafood to play with if you want something unique.

Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms: Mushrooms take on a whole new level of flavor when combined with cured chorizo sausage. These are easy to whip up and you can make lots of them on a single cookie sheet. Chorizo itself is a great appetizer and all you need to do is heat up slices in a pan with a bit of wine and you’ve got the perfect tapa with little fuss.

Jamon Serrano: This cured Spanish ham has plenty of flavor on its own and doesn’t need much dressing up to enthrall diners. A piece of bread and a side of Manchego cheese are oftentimes Serrano’s best partners. If Serrano is not available in your area, you could sub its Italian cousin Proscuitto, but it’s worth tracking it down if you want the real deal.  You can simply wrap it around a breadstick or drape it on a piece of fruit for a quick and dirty tapa that is elegant.

Fun fact: tapas are also called a pincho (“to spike” or “to stick”) in Spain because many of them involve a toothpick going through the entire little treasure so they are easy to pick up and pop in your mouth.


All photos courtesy of Creative Commons.