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How to host a tapas party

Maris Callahan is the author of "In Good Taste," and, as an avid self-taught home cook, is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping women on-the-go cook healthy, delicious meals and snack...

Small plate ideas guests will love

Tapas bars are opening everywhere in the United States, serving a wide variety of appetizers or snacks, usually inspired by Spanish cuisine. While tapas have become common in the United States, few of us understand the history of small plate fare. With roots in Spain, where dinner is usually served between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., there is ample afternoon time for small plates that consist of cheese, olives, cured meats, bread, and seafood along with a glass—or two!—of the local wine. Want to impress your next dinner guests? Bring the tapas tradition to your very own kitchen.

Spanish Tapas

THINK SEAFOOD

In Spain, tapas are often served as an afternoon snack and are not as heavy as the average 5 p.m. meal in America.

Broiled scallops are a great way to celebrate the fruits of the Mediterranean: combine 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 teaspoons each of paprika and oregano; cut 4 roma tomatoes into slices about the same size as the scallops; coat each tomato slice in the oil mixture and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece with bread crumbs and broil 3 to 4-inches from heat source, about 3 to 4 minutes, or until very hot.

Slice 12 dry sea scallops in half horizontally and toss in remaining oil mixture. While tomatoes are still hot, place seasoned scallop on each tomato and top with 1/4 teaspoon salsa verde and a large pinch of grated Jarlsberg cheese. Finish with a sprinkle of bread crumbs and broil again, about 1 to 2 minutes, or until scallops are white and cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

>>>For even more ideas and recipes for your tapas party, check out our SheKnows Holiday Planner with a complete guide to the ultimate tapas party!

 

Go for Goat Cheese

Creamy and tangy, chèvre is a wonderful cheese to serve with a tapas spread. Not only does it taste light and refreshing, it's versatile and works well in most recipes.

If you're dining with kids, let them help you assemble creamy cucumber bites: slice cucumbers into rounds and layer them with marinated sun-dried tomatoes and hot chèvre, top with a dollop of homemade or store bought pesto. To add a touch of France to your Spanish-inspired tapas fete, try goat cheese courgette toast for a dose of green veggies.

CHEESE & CHARCUTERIE

Though charcuterie is a culinary term used to refer to the preparation of cured meats like salami, ham, and prosciutto. It's also a great way to present an assortment of flavors and toppings for warm, fresh crostini.

Serve a charcuterie with an assortment of Spanish cheeses. Offer a variety of hard and soft cheeses, like creamy chèvre and sharp Manchego, to surprise your palate with a variety of textures.

SASSY SANGRIA

What's a party without a pitcher of killer sangria? While sangria is traditionally made with fruit and red wine, you can customize your own recipe at home by adding juice, soda, and fruit that the average bar or café skips.

Add a little fizz by making sangria with a sparkling wine such as Cava and add some seasonal flavor to your beverage by topping your pitcher off with a splash of cranberry or pomegranate juice.

More tapas recipes

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