For our Spanish party, we featured three very snack-able Spanish tapas. Word on the street is that tapas were created to prevent a fly problem. At the local bar, bartenders placed a piece of bread over the patrons’ glasses of wine to keep the flies away. And they ate it. Not quite sure why you’d eat a piece of bread that had flies resting on the top, but whatever. Over time, supposedly, it became a norm, and the little bar snacks were expected. In Spain today, you can always get some tapas with your wine at any Spanish bar. So we took inspiration from that, and created some snacks for our guests.

Spanish Olives

Spanish Olives: You can get these at your local Whole Foods. The bright green ones are the most flavorful, nice and sweet and not too briny. As olives mature, they get darker. So the brighter green, the fresher and milder they are. Manzanilla olives are the type you’ll most often see in the store. For eating, I prefer green olives because they are firmer. For cooking, I think black and brown olives impart the most flavor.

Marcona Almonds

Marcona Almonds: These almonds are most typically blanched, salted and have a little bit of sunflower oil on them. They’re sweeter than the almonds you may be used to, and pair really well with oaky wines that have a little bit of smokiness in them, like Riojas.

Gambas

Gambas al Ajillo: This is a traditional Spanish tapas dish, and you have likely had these before. Making them is a bit of an art, so the recipe we’re going to give you is totally adjustable. Okay, so here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of peeled, de-veined shrimp, the smaller the better
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 chiles de arbol (red hot peppers)
  • 3 cups of olive oil + 1/4 cup for frying
  • sea salt and pepper
  1. To start, thaw the bag of shrimp. Not so fancy, we know, but it saves serious time. Toss them in a bowl with a little bit of salt and pepper. Add the minced garlic. Set aside. All the juices will start to mix together, and the shrimp will get nice and garlicky.
  2. In the meantime, de-seed and cut the chiles de arbol into small pieces, small enough that people can eat them without burning their tongues off. Side note from Dana here: “Use gloves. My dumb self didn’t, and everything I touched for the next two days tasted spicy. Not that my fingers burned or anything, but the oil from the chiles was transferred onto everything I touched. Including my contacts.  That’s a story for another time. Stupid move, I know.”
  3. Mix the chiles with the oil and salt to taste in an oven-proof dish. The oil shouldn’t be too salty, but the salt will bring out the flavor of the shrimp, so don’t be stingy.
  4. Heat the 1/4 cup of oil in a skillet. Fry the garlic cloves until nice and brown. Not burnt, brown. Lay these on a paper towel when done, to soak up the oil.
  5. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. (Yep, that’s hot) Add the shrimp to the oil, and sprinkle with the fried garlic. Cook until the shrimp are pink and look done. Transfer into a serving dish and serve with pieces of baguette.

Christina, my husband and I love garlic, so as you can see, there’s a lot in this dish. You can definitely take it down a notch if you like the taste to be in the milder side.

Pan con Tomate

Pan con Tomate:

This is one of the easiest things you’ll ever make. You know, they say that some of the best things in life are the simplest and pan con tomate is a perfect example of that. As usual, fresh, high-quality ingredients will have a huge impact on the flavors so don’t skimp.

Ingredients:

  • crusty baguette
  • plum tomatoes
  • garlic cloves
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Slice baguette lengthwise in half, then cut into serving sizes.
  2. Toast slices in the oven on high heat or in the broiler, being careful not to burn the bread.
  3. While the bread is toasting, prepare the tomatoes. Cut just the tops off the tomatoes (enough to remove the stem part) and, use a box grater to get the yummy juicy meat of the tomatoes down to a mush.
  4. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub over the toasted face of each slice. Be careful here: you may be surprised how much garlic is transferred to the bread with this process. We rubbed the clove over each toast about 4 or 5 times and the flavor was super spicy (but we loved it). If you like your garlic on the milder side, don’t rub too much. A couple passes might be fine.
  5. As soon as you are done adding the garlic to the toast, spoon the mushed tomato on top. I suggest plopping the tomato on more than spreading it on because I don’t like the bread to get mushy along with the tomato but that’s a personal preference.
  6. Sprinkle sea salt on top. You’re done!

~Dana and Christina

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