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What is Tapas

What is Tapas



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We head to Boqueria to learn the ins and outs of true Spanish tapas

Ali Rosen

Pan con Tomate and Tortila Española

They may be small plates, but they have become a big trend. The phrase ‘small plates’ has become a catch-all for both small portions and tapas, but these genres are not one and the same. We spoke to Marc Vidal, executive chef at Boqueria, to get to the truth on tapas and clear up this common conflation.

Tapas are more than just a plate of food. Vidal says, “For me, tapas are a way of life.” According to Vidal, "In every different region in Spain, you’re going to get different kinds of tapas.” As you travel from north to south, the specialties change.

Along with pan con tomate, Vidal recommends gambas al ajillo, shrimp with garlic and Guindilla pepper, as well as tortilla española, a traditional Spanish omelet, for tapas beginners. He says the tortilla española is “the number one classic tapas dish in Spain.”

So, how did these miniature meals come about? Vidal shares two legends about the history of tapas, but it’s up to you to decide which one is true.

Watch the video above to learn more about how tapas came to be and make sure to try Boqueria for true Spanish tapas.


25 Authentic Spanish Tapas Recipes To Make at Home

If you are looking for a different menu option this holiday season, why not prepare a selection of Spanish tapas? Spanish tapas are small plates of food that can easily be shared among your guests and cater to a large range of dietary requirements.

There are a wide variety of difficulty levels within our recipes today, so whether you are looking for something easy to prepare or trying to wow your guests, check out our twenty-five Spanish tapas recipes below.


Maya Sozer‘s Spicy Pan-Seared Potato Stuffed Flatbread tastes delicious when you dip it in a homemade vegan sauce. They are more filling than regular flatbread as they are filled with potatoes, and spices like cumin, paprika, garam masala, dried mint, and red pepper flakes are sure gonna make your taste-buds satisfied!

There’s no doubt you need something to dip all the delicious food into at the tapas party. That’s where Camilla Saulsbury‘s Creamy Broccoli Hummus comes in handy! Dip all the falafels, bread, and other treats into this hummus filled with broccoli, white beans, and cilantro. Yum!


Tapas recipes

Enjoy a taste of Spain without ever having to leave your kitchen. Our mix & match tapas dishes are perfect finished with a refreshing glass (or jug!) of sangria.

Spanish tortilla

Make a classic Spanish omelette filled with pan-fried potatoes and onion. It makes a delicious light vegetarian meal or an easy tapas dish

Seafood paella

This impressive Spanish one pot, with monkfish, king prawns and mussels, is perfect for feeding a crowd at a dinner party

Stuffed cherry peppers

These low-fat, gluten-free canapés can be put together in just 10 minutes - perfect as a last-minute party nibble

Warm kale salad with almonds & Serrano ham

This modern take on coleslaw and cold cuts makes a delicious starter or light main, with shallots, celery, and a sweet and tangy dressing

Padron peppers

Serve these padron peppers as a side dish or starter in a Spanish feast. They're super-simple to make, requiring little prep and just five minutes of cooking


4 Classic SPANISH TAPAS using Potatoes

Author Albert Bevia @ Spain on a Fork

Ingredients

FOR THE PATATAS BRAVAS

  • 2 yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

FOR THE PATATAS A LO POBRE ¨POOR MAN´S POTATOES¨

  • 1 yukon gold potato
  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut into 2-inch long strips
  • 1/2 green bell pepper cut into 2-inch long strips
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

FOR THE ENSALADILLA RUSA ¨POTATO SALAD¨

  • 2 yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 2 shallots finely diced
  • 1 tomato roughly diced
  • 2 hardboiled eggs roughly diced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 20 green Spanish olives pitted
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

FOR THE BABY BOILED POTATOES WITH GARLIC AIOLI

  • 10 baby new potatoes
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Instructions

TO MAKE THE PATATAS BRAVAS

Cut 2 yukon gold potatoes into squares that are about 3/4 of an inch big, add them to a bowl, drizzle in a generous tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt & black pepper, toss together until well combined, transfer the potatoes into a baking tray lined with parchment paper, make sure they´re all in a single layer, add into a preheated oven, bake + broil option 250 C - 475 F, meanwhile, heat a fry pan with a medium heat and add in a 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, after 3 minutes transfer the hot olive oil into a bowl, add in 2 teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, whisk together untill well combined, transfer the olive oil mixture back to the pan and heat with a medium heat, as you´re whisking everything together, slowly add in 1 cup of vegetable broth, once all the broth has been added, continue to cook on a medium heat and whisk continuously, after 5 minutes and your sauce has thickened up, turn off the heat, add in 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, whisk together until well combined and set aside (the sauce will thicken up as it gets colder), after roasting the potatoes for 25 minutes, remove them from the oven and transfer to a serving dish, whisk the brava sauce in the pan one more time and add spoonfuls over the potatoes, serve at once

TO MAKE THE PATATAS A LO POBRE

Cut 1 large yukon gold potato into 1/4-inch thick rounds, thinly slice 1/2 of an onion and cut 1/2 red bell pepper and 1/2 green bell pepper into 2-inch long strips that are a 1/4-inch thick, heat a large fry pan with a medium heat and add in 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, after 2 minutes add in the slices of potatoes and mix around with the olive oil, after 8 minutes and the potatoes have a light golden color, add in the sliced onions and pieces or bell pepper, mix occasionally so each piece of vegetable is evenly cooked, after a total of about 15 minutes since adding the potatoes and they´re fully cooked through, season everything with sea salt & black pepper, mix together so all the seasonings are evenly divided, remove from the heat and transfer everything into a large serving dish, enjoy

TO MAKE THE ENSALADILLA RUSE

Cut 2 yukon gold potatoes (peeled) into pieces that are between 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick, add the pieces of potatoes into a sauce pan, fill with cold water to about 1/2 inch above the potatoes and heat with a high heat, after 15 minutes and the potatoes are fully cooked through but still firm, drain the potatoes into a strainer, shake off any excess water and add the boiled potatoes into a large bowl, then add in 2 shallots that have been finely diced, 1 tomato that has been roughly diced, 2 hardboiled eggs that have been roughly diced, 1/4 cup corn kernels, 20 green pitted Spanish olives, 1 cup mayonnaise, shred in 1 large clove of garlic and pour in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, season everything with sea salt & black pepper, gently mix together until everything is well combined, add to the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, this potato salad will hold for up to 3 days in the fridge

TO MAKE THE BABY BOILED POTATOES WITH GARLIC AIOLI

Wash and pat dry 10 baby new potatoes, add into a sauce pan, fill with cold water to about 1/2 inch above the potatoes, season generously with sea salt and heat it with a high heat, meanwhile, add 1/2 cup mayonnaise into a large bowl, shred in 2 cloves of garlic, squeeze in 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, pour in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive and season with sea salt & black pepper, whisk together until well combined, transfer to a smaller bowl and set aside, after boiling the potatoes for 25 minutes and they´re fully cooked through, but still firm, drain the potatoes into a strainer, shake off any excess water and add the potatoes into a serving dish, place the bowl with the garlic aioli next to the potatoes and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley, serve warm, cold or at room temperature

Recipe Notes

Get the Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil I used to make these tapas recipes.

Disclosure: At Spain on a Fork, we offer affiliate links to help you find what you need to re-create our recipes. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission, but you still pay the same price. Learn more here.


Seafood

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

I hope you like garlic, because this dish is made with a full 12 cloves. Four of the cloves are grated onto the shrimp as it marinates, four are smashed and infused into the olive oil, and four are sliced and fried. After all of the shrimp is gone you'll be left with plenty of garlic- and shrimp-infused oil, so make sure to have crusty bread on hand to soak it up.

Sous Vide Shrimp With Garlic, Sherry, and Smoked Paprika

For this less-traditional dish we cook the shrimp sous vide, which allows you to get textures that are impossible with conventional cooking methods. The technique might be high-tech, but the flavorings are classic: extra-virgin olive oil, sherry, and garlic, and some unconventional (but still delicious) smoked paprika.

Spanish Tuna-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers (Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Atún)

Canned food has a bad reputation in the US, but in Spain it's practically an art form. This recipe is based on two Spanish canned delicacies: piquillo peppers and bonito tuna. We dress the tuna with homemade allioli, olive oil, shallots, capers, and parsley stuff the mixture into the peppers and serve on top of toasted baguette slices.

Galician Empanada With Tuna, Onion, and Green Bell Pepper Filling

The Galician empanada—a predecessor to the Latin American version of the dish you're probably more familiar with—is another great way to use oil-packed tuna. Rather than individual hand pies, this recipe makes one big pie stuffed with onion, green pepper, and the tuna.

Classic Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus Tapa)

If you've never cooked octopus before, this Galician dish is a good place to start. It's about as simple as can be—nothing more than slices of octopus topped with olive oil, salt, and Spanish smoked paprika. You can cook perfectly tender octopus on the stove, but it's much faster with a pressure cooker.

Anchovy, Red Pepper, and Manchego Pintxos

Pintxos are a blank canvas—slices of bread are a must, but you can top them with just about anything you want. To get you started we've got a version made with nutty Manchego cheese, salty anchovies, and sweet roasted red pepper. We finish the pintxos with a drizzle of acidic sherry vinegar.

Grilled Sardines With Lemon, Garlic, and Paprika

In my opinion, no tapas experience is complete without sardines. The little fish can be a little, well, fishy, so here we marinate them with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic before they hit the grill. A teaspoon of smoked paprika reinforces the charred flavor from the fire, while parsley and lemon brighten the dish up.


Our tapas selection

Foie Toast with Jamon Ibérico: This extraordinary and Special Ham deserves its own space. The Iberian Acorn Ham it's exclusive from Spain. Iberian hogs are born, fed and raised in the south and northwest of Spain

Shrimp Fritters - Tortillitas de Camarones: I have eaten these crisp, delicious shrimp fritters only in Andalusia, where deep-frying reigns supreme. They are at their best when made with chickpea flour, but regular flour is just OK.

Spicy Sausage and Cheese Tortilla: This substantial tortilla is delicious hot or cold. Cut it into chunky wedges and serve for supper or a light lunch with a fresh tomato and basil salad. The addition of spicy chorizo and tangy cheese gives it a wonderful, rich flavor.

Pimientos del piquillo rellenos (Stuffed piquillo peppers): Vegetables don't care about borders, and even if piquillo peppers are considered a Navarran specialty, neighbors next ਍oor in La Rioja claim some rights over the celebrated peppers. Here, they are stuffed in the manner of Logroño, the capital of the region and a good starting point for visiting a number of excellent nearby wine cellars. 

Mejillones en escabeche:਎n escabeche is a traditional method of preserving foods that was frequently used before refrigeration. Castilla– La Mancha is known for its superb escabeches, of which this is just one good example. The mussels will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Barbecued Mini Ribs: These tasty ribs are known as Costillas in Spain. They are delicious cooked on a barbecue and almost as good when cooked under a hot grill. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, use freshly squeezed orange juice instead of the sweet sherry.

Fried Black Pudding (Morcilla Frita): Spanish morcilla - black pudding - is the first sausage to be made from the freshly killed pig and is very popular throughout Spain. It is flavored with spices and herbs, usually including garlic and oregano, and has a wonderfully rich, spicy taste.

Ceviche: You can use almost any firm-fleshed fish for this Spanish influenced dish, provided that it is perfectly fresh. The fish is 'cooked' by the action of the acidic lime juice. Adjust the amount of chilli according to your taste.

Spiced Clams: Spanish clams, specially in the North, are much larger than clams found elsewhere, and have more succulent bodies. This modern recipe uses Arab spicing to make a hot dip or sauce. Serve with plenty of fresh bread to mop up the delicious juices!

Flamenquines are typically served as a tapa, but I most often eat them as a light dinner main course at the home of friends in the Andalusian town of Andujar, which is surrounded by beautiful sunflower fields in full bloom in September. You can also make these rolls with beef instead of pork, and some people like to add slices of cheese. Whichever ingredients you choose, these rolls are unforgettable. 

Stuffed Tomatoes tapas: This one is a simple recipe, very handy when preparing a barbeque or a picnic party. Tomatoes here are used as a container for a delicious Spanish stuffing.

Salt Cod Fritters with Allioli: Bacalao - salt cod - is one of the great Spanish delights, adding flavor to bland ingredients such as potatoes. If you are unfamiliar with it, then this is a delightful way to try it out. Bitesize fish cakes, dipped into rich, creamy, garlicky allioli, are irresistible as a tapas dish or appetizer.

Artichoke rice cakes with manchego: These unusual little croquetas contain artichoke in the rice mixture, and they break open to reveal a melting cheese centre. Manchego is made from sheep's milk and has a tart flavor that goes wonderfully with the delicate taste of the rice cakes.

Prawn croquettes: Croquetas are ubiquitous in Spain, although they most likely originate from the French 'croquettes'. Their beauty lies in the bechamel base which is then mixed with your particular ingredient of choice to give it a characteristic flavor. The possibilities are almost endless - here we have used prawns.

Prawn and Bacon Brochettes: The Spanish love bacon, which we cure and air-dry in the same way as our famous jamon. This combination of prawns and bacon is inspired and very popular, and can be found at most Tapas bar, as well as in many banquets and receptions. It is an ideal treat for your guests when having a party at home!

Gildas: Gilda means lollipop, and the classic Gilda is a simple assembly of a guindilla (Spanish chile pepper), an anchovy and an olive. The combination of good-quality pinkish anchovies, smallish, crisp, unwrinkled chillies and a freshly pitted olive produce a sophisticated mélange.

Smoked Fish and Fruit Pintxos: Smoked fish and fresh fruit make a perfect match when combined in this recipe and served as an appetizer. Smoked salmon is now ubiquitous in Spain, particularly in the cities. Less evidence is traditional bacalao (salt cod), for which smoked mackerel is a substitute here.

Artichokes with clams: Artichokes are a popular vegetable in Spain, especially fresh from the market. They are often served sautéed with ham or stuffed with white sauce and ham or meat, etc. Sometimes served cold, they combine well with anchovies and piquillo peppers, or with salmon and capers, or tuna fish with a good olive oil.

Patatas bravas: A classic! Spicy and hot fried potatoes, with a Brava sauce to match!

Stuffed Mussels (Tigres): In Bilbao, these stuffed mussels are called Tigres because of their fieriness.  I fondly remember the crowded little bars in the old part of Bilbao, where orders of tigres would emerge by the dozens from the tiny kitchens.

Empanadas:  bread pies stuffed with shellfish, fish or meats, are iconic of Galician cuisine. The crusts and fillings vary from place to place, and nearly every Galician family, restaurant, and tavern claims to have the secret formula for making the best version. Of the many empanadas I have tasted in this beautiful northwestern region, these ones are my favorites - their crust is consistently delicate and delicious.

Mollejas salteadas: Many people think of sweetbreads (mollejas) as an exotic ingredient served only at upscale restaurants, but they are actually simple to prepare at home. A classical Madrid tapa, by the way!

Bread with Mushrooms and Alioli: This tapa recipe comes from a bar in Madrid. I used to jog around the Retiro and then eat these tostadas washed down with a nice cold caña! When I serve this recipe at a party, it is always the first to go!

Mussels Vinaigrette: Steamed mussels are dressed with a flavorful vinaigrette in this colorful tapa. It is an ideal treat for a party or any event with lots of people attending.

Pa amb oli. Pa amb oli means "bread with olive oil" in Majorcan, and it is as commonly eaten in the Balearic Islands as pa amb tomàquet is in Catalonia.ਊs with pa amb tomàquet, this recipe can be embellished with a topping of jamón serrano, anchovies, or cheese.

Pulpo a Feira: Though it originated in Galicia or the neighboring region of Leon, pulpo a feira, as it is known in Galician, or pulpo a la gallega, as it is called in Spanish, is now popular throughout Spain. It is usually served on wooden plates with cachelos, potatoes that have been boiled or roasted in embers with their skins on.

Pimientos rellenos (Rice-stuffed peppers): The rice to fill these stuffed peppers, which are typical of the mountain towns of Alcoy and Bocairent, cooks in the sweet juices from the tomato and pepper.

Gambas a la plancha (Pan-grilled shrimp): Spaniards love to eat grilled shrimp at the counter of a good tapas bar while sipping a glass of chilled fino sherry or cold beer. The bars are often crowded, leaving little or no space for proper eating, and I find it fascinating to watch the locals skillfully manage to eat shrimp with one hand while holding a drink in the other.

Ensaladilla Rusa (Spanish Potato Salad): This is a popular tapa recipe, made of vegetables and mayonnaise. It is served free in most bars in Spain, along with a beer or a glass of wine.

Spanish Ham Croquettes: Croquetas are a common sight on bar counters and in homes across Spain, served as a tapa, light lunch, or a dinner along with a salad. The jamon serrano in this recipe could be replaced with chopped hard-boiled eggs, shredded salt cod, minced shrimp, chopped chorizo, cheese, or just about any vegetable.

Spanish omelette: This is THE tapa! There is nothing more typical than a Spanish omelette! Learn how to prepare the real one!

Piperada is a filling egg dish, which makes a delicious brunch, and it can also be served as a tapa. A popular variation of this recipe serves the piperada on toasted bread rounds dripping with butter. Either way, this simple egg dish is sure to become a part of your culinary repertoire.

Green Aparaguses with Salmon: This innovative tapa recipe puts together traditional Spanish ingredients with northern salmon. Try this new classic tapa!

Catalan Style Beans: Habas are a traditional type of Spanish bean, that Catalan chefs (after their grandmother's cookbook!) have turn into one of the greatest tapas nowadays!

Meatballs in tomato sauce: found in most tapas bars, this traditional dish tastes best when served piping hot straight from the pan. Provide plenty of fresh bread to mop up the juicy tomato sauce.

Tuna and goat cheese empanadillas: Empanadillas, the smaller, pocket-size versions of empanadas, are generally served as tapas, and, because no silverware is required to eat them, make perfect party food.

Garlic-marinated Black Olives: Attesting to the simplicity of tapas, a handful of marinated olives is often ample accompaniment to a glass of chilled sherry in most Spanish tapas bars. Marinated to piquant perfection, these olives are far from ordinary.

Apple and Walnut Salad: This refreshing, crisp summer salad provides the perfect accompaniment to a glass (or two) of chilled Spanish sherry. For a tangier version, add a dash of lemon juice to the mayonnaise before mixing it into the salad.

Champiñones al ajillo: Few tapas taste more Spanish than champiñones al ajillo (ajillo mushrooms), dripping with olive oil, garlic and dry Spanish Sherry.

Red Onion and Orange Salad: This popular and colorful salad lends a festive note to any tapas table, and is featured in many tapas bar throughout Spain.

Riñones al Jerez - Sherry Kidneys: Most tapas bars in Spain serve Riñones al Jerez, though at home it can be served with rice or pasta as a main meal. You can add sliced mushrooms to increase the number of portions.

Boquerones en Escabeche:  Moorish Pickled Anchovies This is an old, old way of preserving small fish which has survived into modern times because it is so delicious. The coast round Nerja is known for its shoals of fresh anchovies. In Malaga the fish are pressed together into a little fan, four tails together, for frying, but this is not essential to the recipe.

Pinchitos Morunos: Small Spicy Moorish Kebabs Europe's first kebabs were brought by the Arabs from Africa. Pinchitos morunos are eaten everywhere in Spain as a tapa, though nowadays they are made of pork, rather than lamb. Spices for them are sold ready-mixed in the south. I have used curry powder as part of my mixture as it contains cumin and very similar herbs.

Asparagus Omelette: Although this unique omelette is usually served from the skillet, it is also delicious served cold or at room temperature. Indeed, cooled leftovers of this delectable dish with a glass of amontillado sherry make for a perfect picnic lunch.


6. Carrillada en Salsa – Braised Pork Cheeks recipe: one of my favourites Spanish Tapas!

Slow-cooked pork cheeks are the star of tapas. This Spanish recipe is easy to make and very tasty. The pork cheek meat is tender and full of the flavour of red wine, beef stock and spices. It takes some to prepare the dish but is worth it!

Carrillada en salsa ingredients:

  • 700g of pork cheeks
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 0.5 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 0.5 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • Some olive oil

Spanish Carrillada recipe:

Fry the chopped onion on medium heat until soft and remove from the pan. Then, toss the pork cheeks in flour, add some salt and pepper. Add more olive oil to the pan and increase the heat. Fry the cheeks until brown on all sides and set them aside. Repeat until all the cheeks are done. Then, lower the heat, add onions and pork to the pan. Also, add the garlic and the seasoning. Cook for about a minute and pour in the wine. Simmer the mix and pour in the beef stock. Cook for about 2 hours until the pork cheeks are tender. Serve with bread or mashed potatoes.


Different types of tapas

In Spain, you'll see tapas in a few different forms. The main groups are:

  • pinchos/pintxos
  • cheese and charcuterie platters
  • cold tapas
  • hot tapas

First, let me talk about pinchos (pintxos in Basque), which are probably what many people think of when you talk about tapas. These are slices of bread with various different toppings. The name comes from the Basque Country in the NorthEast where you'll find bars dedicated purely to pinchos. Often the bar is lined with plates of them, you get a plate and help yourself.

Each pincho has a cocktail stick in it and when you are done, the bartender counts up your sticks and charges accordingly. San Sebastian in particular is where you'll find some incredibly creative and delicious toppings. So much so, you'll hardly believe you're just eating a piece of bread with stuff on it.

Cheese and charcuterie platters are as you might imagine, a range of local cheeses and/or cured meats. Despite manchego being the best known, there's much more to Spanish cheeses than just that. Spanish cheeses include both hard and soft cheeses, blue cheese and are made using different milks. See my Spanish cheese plate for more on some classic Spanish cheeses.

Charcuterie also comes in a broad range of varieties, from jamon serrano (serrano ham) and chorizo (a kind of salami with paprika) to more regional cured meats like fuet (a thin cured salami-type sausage from Catalunya/the Balearics).

Cold tapas can be everything from salads to cold soups like gazpacho and salmorejo, and snacks like olives and anchovies. A slice of Spanish tortilla may be included in there too.

A few favorite examples are in my no cook Spanish tapas, including pan con tomate which is a base for many simple open sandwiches (and pinchos).

Many cold tapas, like potato salads and seafood, are all ready to go in dishes behind the bar to make things easier, but they are usually very fresh. At home, they're great for a quick, light lunch and snacks.

Then hot tapas are where, to me, things get interesting. Some typical dishes include:

    (potatoes with a spicy sauce) , pimientos de Padrón (shrimp in garlic) (Moorish pork skewers) (Spanish chorizo sausage cooked in wine)
  • paella, and it's variations including arroz negro
  • calamari (meatballs, recipe from Love Foodies) (croquettes, ham, cheese or salt cod the most popular - ham recipe from Curious Cuisinere)
  • pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style octopus)

Despite what you may think from the above, you do get some vegetarian ones but in fairness, not a huge number, at least traditionally. Even another common tapas of sautéed mushrooms usually has ham in it.

Traditionally tapas don't include sweet dishes per se, but there are some common that may feature on a menu. Crema Catalana (similar to creme brulee), flan (like creme caramel), arroz con leche (rice pudding)) and natillas (a kind of custard) are some the most popular.

Tapas are such a key part of eating in Spain, and come in such a variety. Of course the same idea exists in other cultures, like mezze in the Eastern Med/Middle East. It's an idea being adopted and adapted around the world too. And why not, it's a fun way to eat! So next time someone asks what are tapas, you're next question is what tapas do you want to enjoy first?

And if you want a broader taste of Spain, get many more Spanish recipes in the archives.


Enjoying Tapas

Historically, tapas are free and served along with your drink. Today, it’s rare to get a free tapas plate of anything more than chips, nuts, or olives. But more elevated tapas are worth paying for, anyway. However, in some traditional Spanish cities, your tapas will come free with your drink.

Tapas can be a fun snack or appetizer. Or if you’d like to go out for the night in Spain, you can bar hop and make a meal out of your tapas, getting a new dish on top of every drink. If you’re going out with friends, you can share and sample a variety of tapas and not get too full.

Outside of Spain, you may find tapas bars where you can order multiple small plates with or without a drink. And traditional tapas can be a good fit for parties, when it’s a good idea to take a lesson from King Alfonso and encourage guests to eat while drinking.

While we’re all social distancing, a small tapas spread is also a fun Friday night dinner option.