Entertain with Tapas

Ain't nobody got time for a full meal. Is that why tapas so popular? Little bites of different things to make a satisfying dinner. Maybe people lack the attention span ... even when it comes to food.

Regardless, I love it. Makes these for your weekend celebration and you'll collect friends. 

Fried Chickpeas with Pimenton
Serves 12

3/4 lb. dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked (about 4 - 5 cups) or 4, 15 oz. cans drained well
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pimenton, to taste

Working in two large skillets divide olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add chickpeas and swirl pan occasionally until chickpeas begin to brown and become crispy, this will take 20 – 25, please be patience.

Drain chickpeas on a paper towel lined sheet tray and season with salt and pimenton.

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Fried Rosemary
Makes 2 dozen

2 sprigs rosemary
Olive oil
2 dozen dates, pitted
3 oz. blue cheese
12 strips bacon

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring 2” of olive oil to 365° F in a medium saucepan and fry rosemary until just fragrant. Remove rosemary and cool completely, pick leaves.

Place a few rosemary pieces in the center of each date, add a desired amount of blue cheese and wrap with bacon. Place the seam-side of the bacon on a sheet tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the bacon is cooked and crispy around each date.

Cool slightly before serving.

Roasted Beets with Tzatziki, Pepitas and Watercress
Serves 12

Beets

6 red beets
6 yellow beets
Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Tzatziki Sauce

1 pint Greek yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 hothouse cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
Zest and juice 1 lemon
1 bunch dill, finely chopped

1 cup pepitas

Place tin foil on two sheet trays and lay yellow and red beats on each respectively. Season with a splash of vinegar, olive oil and salt. Place tin foil on top of each sheet tray and seal, creating a packet.

Preheat oven to 375° and roast beets for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Remove from packages and cool slightly before peeling, using a paper towel. Cut into bite size pieces. 

Combine all ingredients for Tzatziki Sauce smear on to the bottom of a large tray, top with beets and garnish with watercress and pepitas.

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
Serves 12

16 oz. goat cheese
4 scallions, sliced
Fresh mint, sliced
Red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste  
Zest 1 lemon
15 roasted piquillo peppers

Preheat broiler. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.

Mash goat cheese, scallions, mint, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. If using jarred peppers, remove from liquid and pat dry, very dry. Fill with mixture. 

Place peppers on sheet tray and broil until warmed through and slightly browned. Serve with bread. 

Gambas al Ajillo
Serves 12

4 dozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 shallots, minced
6 gloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter  

Heat oven to 350° F.

In a large ovenproof dish place shrimp, shallots and garlic. Season shrimp with salt and red pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil and wine. Spot with butter and place in the oven.

Serve while hot.

Seared Scallops with Saffron Sauce
Serves 2 - 4

8 large scallops
Salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat a heavy bottom pan on high heat. Pat dry scallops well and salt generously, sear scallops on one side for 2 – 3 minutes. Add a drop or two of vegetable oil to the pan to create a sear and flip. Cook for an additional 1 minute and remove from the pan. Place on a slotted sheet tray and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Sauce

1 shallot, finely minced
1/2 cup white wine, dry
1 pinch saffron threads
1 stick butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Juice of a lemon
Salt

Cook shallots until translucent over medium heat. Add white wine and deglaze the pan. Allow wine to reduce about half and add saffron threads. Continue to whisk and add butter, do not allow mixture to boil. Add fresh lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste.

Serve over scallops. This makes more sauce than you need.