6 tapas dishes for your next summer party


The versatile little dishes of Spain add life to the party. Serve a couple as a mid-afternoon nosh or with drinks at sunset. Add a few more and they turn into a casual, finger food dinner. Or make a larger quantity of one or two and build a meal around them. As much about informal socializing as staving off hunger, tapas are cottage perfect. ¡Buen provecho!

Pan con tomate (Tomato bread)
On the grill, toast thick slices of rustic bread. Remove and rub each slice with a peeled garlic clove. Then rub with a ripe tomato half until you’re left with just skin. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy as is or top with Serrano ham or Manchego cheese and a little more oil.

Manchego with honey
Drizzle thin slices of Manchego cheese with honey. Even better, add a few drops of good balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with fresh thyme. Traditional? No, but so, so easy.

No cooking required for these toothpick tapas: Combine up to four ingredients, going for contrasts in colour and taste. (Kids love to help assemble these.)
Some ideas:

  • Cornichon pickles
  • Pickled onions
  • Pickled piquillo, pepperoncini, or other small mild peppers
  • Roasted red or yellow peppers, dressed in olive oil
  • Artichoke hearts (marinated or packed in olive oil)
  • Chunks of oliveoil-packed tuna
  • Pitted green or black olives
  • Anchovy fillets (rinsed and patted dry to remove salt, if you prefer)

Gambas a la parrilla (Shrimp on the grill)
Napkin alert: Peel and eat these shrimp with your fingers—after sucking the flavourful shells, of course. Preheat barbecue to high. In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil with the juice of 1 large lemon and salt to taste. When ready to cook, toss 1 lb (500 g) 31/40 count shrimp with shells and tails on in oil mixture. Remove and put in grilling basket (or thread on presoaked skewers).Grill over high heat for 2 minutes, turn, and grill for 2 minutes longer, or until shells are slightly charred and shrimp are just opaque. Serve with lemon wedges.

Champiñones al ajillo (Garlic mushrooms)
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté 2 chopped garlic cloves in 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil. When garlic is golden, remove from oil with a slotted spoon and discard. Cut 1/2 lb (250 g) button mushrooms in half, and cook in the oil over high heat, stirring until browned, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in 2 more chopped garlic cloves, 2 tbsp (30 ml) dry sherry (or white wine), 1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice, 1/4 tsp (1 ml) hot smoked paprika, and salt and pepper; cook 3–4 minutes longer. Add more paprika or lemon juice to taste and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce. 

Chorizo al infierno (Sausage flambéed in brandy)
Flambéing adds crowd-pleasing drama and flavour to chorizo. If your barbecue has a side burner, use it. Cut about 1/2 lb (250 g) dry-cured Spanish-style chorizos on the diagonal into 1/4″ (6 mm) slices. Arrange in a single layer in a frying pan, and brown over medium heat, turning once, about 1 minute per side. Add 1/3 cup (75 ml) brandy, and heat for about 15 seconds. Remove pan from the burner and, using a long-handled grill lighter or match, carefully ignite brandy. Each Recipe serves 4–6 as part of a tapas selection.