If there’s one thing we love, it’s a great tapas night. Sharing good food brings people together, stimulates conversation and adds a sense of fun to the evening.
While it may seem overwhelming (all those different dishes to prepare!), we´ll show you how a spread of authentic Spanish small plates is easier to put together than you might think. With just a few recipes, together with some ready-to-serve items, you’ll be ready to host a tapas night in no time. We suggest serving everything at the same time with some great bread and having people help themselves.
Here’s our round up of our favourite, easy tapas recipes and ideas for an abundant and festive Spanish celebration of food. Olé!
Gambas Al AJillo (Shrimp with Garlic)
A Spanish tapas classic, Gambas Al Ajillo, is a regular feature on our menu and a great way to add a hot dish to your spread with very little effort. With just a few ingredients and a few minutes, you’ll have delicious, sizzling shrimp in a garlicky oil to add to your table.
They key to a great gambas al ajillo in our opinion, is cooking it in a cazuela (earthenware dish) and serving the garlicky shrimp bubbling hot with some bread for dipping. If you don’t have a cazuela, any frying pan will do to cook the shrimp, but be sure to heat up your serving dish in the oven before serving your to keep it piping hot.
Manchego Cheese & Membrillo
Manchego cheese and membrillo (quince paste) are the perfect partners and a real crowd pleaser. The sharp, nutty flavour of the aged Manchego cheese with the fruity sweetness of the membrillo is a delicious combination that everyone will love. Membrillo, or quince paste, is a firm, fruity complement to the cheese, kind of like a jam, which tastes like a combination of pear, apple and citrus.
Simply cut slices or triangles of the manchego cheese and then cut a small piece of the membrillo and place it on top. Serve arranged on a plate perhaps with some crackers on the side.
You can pick up our Manchego and membrillo kit together in our shop.
Chorizo in Red Wine
This is a simple, warm tapas dish bursting with the smoky paprika flavour of the chorizo and the richness of red wine. It’s a ridiculously easy dish to make and it’s an impressive addition to any tapas spread.
We recommend using cooking chorizo however, this Iberian Chorizo Sarta from Senorio de Montanera is a great alternative. It’s cured so it doesn’t require cooking, but it crisps up nicely in the pan and releases the paprika flavoured oils in the same way as cooking chorizo does. This dish is best served in a cazuela, with some bread for dipping.
Montaditos with Tuna, Piquillo Pepper and Guindilla
We love serving these little montaditos and the sky is the limit when it comes to the toppings. We’ve suggested a classic combination here, but you can mix and match all you want as long as you have great ingredients.
All you need to do is thinly slice a baguette and top with high quality tuna loin, a slice of piquillo pepper (Spanish roasted jarred peppers) and a guindilla, which is a mild Spanish chilli pepper, and secure with a toothpick. Instead of the guindilla, you could use a green olive instead, or instead of the tuna, you could use Manchego cheese or ham. It really is fun and colourful to put a variety of montaditos together.
Here comes the part that feels like you’re cheating. Pick up a few tins of conservas (Spanish tinned seafood), and serve them straight from the cans.
They’re pretty and fun to try, especially for those who haven’t experienced the joy of Spanish conservas before. We find that a combination of mussels in escabeche (picked sauce), octopus in paprika or olive oil and sardines work well, but there are tons of options to choose from depending on what you like to eat most.
It wouldn’t be a tapas spread without some delicious Spanish ham. There are three main types of jamón, and part of the fun is having your guests try all three.
The king of Spanish ham is Jamon Ibérico de Bellota, which comes from free-roaming Iberian pigs who feed on a diet of acorns. This is a special treat but it doesn´t come cheap. If you´re going for jamón Ibérico de Bellota we´d suggest Joselito Gran Reserva Bellota ham – it is really worth it.
Next you have jamón Iberico de Cebo, which is still from Ibérico pigs, but sometimes fed on a diet of grain and can be farmed. It does have an excellent price point and you´ll get more for your money. If you´re going for this option, we´d suggest Montaraz Iberico de Cebo.
For both these hams, we´d suggest serving it on its own in a circular fashion on a plate or board. You can serve with some breadsticks or bread but it´s not necessary.
Finally, the third type of ham is jamón Serrano. It´s similar to Italian prosciutto and comes in long, thin slices that work well served on its own, along with other cured meats and cheeses, or is delicious wrapped around chunks of melon or fresh figs.
Everyone loves patatas bravas. Crispy chunks of fried potato smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. Here´s the thing though, you´ve already got a lot to do! So here´s a cheat´s version we swear will be just as good and will save you a bit of time. By all means, if you want to make them from scratch, here´s a great recipe you can follow. All you need to do is buy some frozen homefries from your supermarket, and once cooked, pour over this delicious brava sauce from Ferrer. Maybe sprinkle with a little parsley upon serving. Done!
There you have it, recipes and the ingredients you need to pull off an epic tapas night. A wide variety of dishes that are easy to make and there´s something for everyone. Depending on how many guests you have, you can also add more cured meats like salchichón or lomo on a charcuteria board, or place some olives in little bowls around the table.