For a different kind of dinner party, serve up some Spanish nibbles like manchego cheese, jamón serrano, and pimentón-seared shrimp
Ever since living in Spain 17 years ago and falling in love, first with the food, and then, much later, with my future husband, I’ve been stuck on that country’s wonderful cuisine. There’s paella and gazpacho, of course, but I think Spain’s most brilliant invention is its tradition of tapas. Order a glass of wine or a beer at a bar, and alongside you’ll be served a little morsel of something delicious. That’s a tapa. The concept also plays out in homes. When I visit my mother-in-law in Madrid, dinner is often just a spread of the most basic tapas—cheeses, cured meats, olives, perhaps a salad—and we all just nibble on what we please. Dress up the dishes a bit, and you have the makings for a great party.
So the next time you’re casting about for an idea for a different kind of dinner gathering, you can make it easy on yourself and fun for your guests by serving tapas. The dishes I’m offering here are completely typical of what you’d find in Spain: They’re rustic, earthy, a little bit lusty, and utterly easy. Round out these seven recipes with the simplest tapa of all: jamón serrano, sliced paper thin and set on a plate. For more information on the authentic Spanish ingredients such as chorizo and piquillo peppers, including where to find them, see Stocking Your Spanish Pantry.
Recently I hosted this tapas party for some new friends. The tapas did the magical thing they always do: They loosened up the crowd and got the party rolling. And I was relaxed, too. That’s because I prepped the heck out of the recipes, so it was smooth sailing once people started to walk through the door. It was one of the best parties I’ve thrown in a long time.