Tapas are the Spanish version of appetizers that have grown to worldwide popularity. They are made of small bits and nibbles of a variety of foods ranging from cured meats to seafood and have the power to bring together people who share good tastes in food.
In Spain, people serve dinner as late as midnight. Between the times they leave work in the late afternoon and until they sit down for dinner, the Spanish enjoy hopping from one bar to another, socializing, drinking, and nibbling on tapas. It is a simple, yet fun lifestyle that allows them to have a rich variety of delicious foods in their diet.
If you want to have a taste of the Spanish lifestyle, you can try making easy Spanish tapas at home. Have some friends over and delight them with the strong, distinctive flavors of homemade tapas recipes!
What are tapas and where do they come from?
The history of tapas starts in the Middle Ages when barkeepers would cover drinks with a piece of bread when serving them to keep flies from falling into the cups. The cover, which in Spanish is called “tapa,” became popular, and it spread across the country.
In time, the bars kept adding small appetizers on the piece of bread, such as olives, anchovies, cheese, and cured meat. In turn, they would increase the price of the drinks, and the customers would welcome the “free” appetizers, which slowed down the effects of alcohol and they could drink even more. It is easy to see how it became a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Nowadays, tapas are so popular in Spain that they gave birth to a whole new verb, called "tapear," which means "to eat tapas." Now, you know that is one powerful food when it can single-handedly enrich the grammar of an entire nation. But then again, the "tapa” is more than just a snack. It is a quintessential part of the easy-going, Spanish life.
How to Throw a Tapas Party
The Spanish people are experts in organizing delightful dinner parties, which are all centered on the emblematic Iberian dishes globally known as tapas. The atmosphere during such celebrations is intoxicating, and it has to do more with the quality and versatility of the food than it would with the friendliness of the host of the amount of sangria the guests drink.
If you are organizing a tapas party, you have to think big and take into consideration things like:
- A wide variety of foods
- Diet options for vegetarians, vegans, or pescatarians
- Freshly baked bread
- Traditional upbeat Spanish tunes in the background
- Unlimited sangria
A good conversation can always substitute mediocre food at a dinner party. However, when it comes to tapas, there are so many tapas recipes to choose from, that it is nearly impossible to cook bad food. Most likely, your guests will barely have time to breathe between the bites, let alone speak. Below are ten of the easiest traditional Spanish Tapas you can prepare in the comfort of your kitchen.
10 Easy Spanish Tapas to Make at Home
1. Tortilla Española (Spanish omelet)
This tapas is one of the most traditional Spanish dishes, and you can find it in almost every bar and restaurant in Spain. It is a thick, double-layered egg omelet full of potatoes. Some versions include onion and bacon, but you can easily make the classic tortilla with very few ingredients at home.
2. Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)
These tiny, but delicious croquettes are a staple ingredient of every Spanish tapas menu. They look crisp and slightly burnt on the outside. However, when you take a bite, a flavorful slush of cured ham and melted cheese explodes into your mouth to send your taste buds into the 7th heaven.
3. Patatas Bravas (Crispy Potatoes)
At first sight, the Patatas Bravas does not seem like anything out of the ordinary. It's just a plate of diced potatoes that have been fried and covered in a white and pink sauce. However, it is exactly the sauce that makes the difference between these traditional Spanish tapas and regular fries. That sauce combines mayonnaise, hot chili, and garlic to make every bite a memorable pinch of your tongue.
These crispy potatoes are the ideal appetizer for when you want to drink your weight. Firstly, every bite asks for a sip of beer or sangria. And, secondly, they do a great job at absorbing the alcohol you take in, so you can last at the bar longer.
4. Empanadillas Gallegas (Galician Turnovers)
These tasty tapas come from the northwest region of Spain called Galicia. They are a version of pan-cooked pies filled with meat or tuna. The large portions are called empanadas, but the smaller ones that you get for free with a drink are called empanadillas.
5. Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)
If you love seafood, you will love these delicious Spanish tapas made of only fried shrimp, garlic, and olive oil. In fancier restaurants, you might even get a drop of expensive brandy in the mix.
6. Almejas en Salsa Verde (Clams in Green Sauce)
This tapas originates from the Basque country, which is a region divided between the north of Spain and southwest France. It is a lovely stir-fry of clams, parsley, garlic, and dry wine that will have you ordering more drinks just so you can get more clams.
7. Pulpo Gallego (Grilled Octopus with vegetables)
These tapas may sound fancier than the others, and it might even require extra cooking time, but it is worth the wait, the effort, and the cost. It is made of octopus grilled in Galician-style and served with potatoes, olive oil, and other veggies.
8. Pimientos Rellenos de Atún (Tuna-Stuffed Red Peppers)
These classic tapas are one of the easiest ones to prepare because it doesn’t require any cooking. All you need to do is cut open a can of premium quality tuna and use it in a mixture with onion and green olives to stuff canned roasted red peppers.
9. Banderillas (Pickled Vegetable Skewer)
The Banderillas are short skewers filled with various pickled vegetables and fruit, such as cucumbers, peppers, olives, and dried tomatoes. Some fancier versions even have small pieces of cheese or ham as well.
10. Cured Meats and Cheeses
Finally, Spanish cuisine is renowned for its rich offerings of cheese and cured meats. Besides all the tapas listed above, you can always add some Jamón Ibérico, chorizo, and Manchego cheese to your dinner table as well. Break a few baguettes into pieces and watch your friends devour some of the tastiest tapas in the world.
Secret Tip: An Alternative to Cooking Spanish Tapas at Home
Preparing Spanish tapas at home is not always pleasant, cost-effective, or convenient. Even if you do not have the time or the skills to cook tapas in your kitchen, you can still throw a memorable Spanish Tapas Party by ordering this gourmet Spanish seafood tapas box.