There are different stories about where the name, tapa (the Spanish word meaning “cover”), comes from. Some say it refers to the piece of bread used to cover the sherry from fruit flies; others say it refers to the plate that covers the glass because patrons used to stand at tapas bars.
In Spain, tapas are enjoyed after work as a pre-dinner meal, as dinnertime is usually past 9 p.m., or before lunch on weekends. Traditionally, tapas consisted of just small bowls of olives, plates of cured meat, Manchego cheese – all savoured with a few glasses of sherry. Today, the cuisine has evolved into a robust bar-hopping culture with a huge variety of dishes accompanied by a vast array of Spanish wines.
Tasty tapas recipes
1. Tortilla de patatas - potato omelette
One of the most popular and simplest tapas dishes that you see all over Spain is tortilla de patatas, a potato omelette. Each region, even each bar, has their own take on it, but the most common version is made of just potatoes, onions, garlic, and eggs. Garlic and onions are cooked in a little olive oil until soft. Then, partially cooked potato slices and beaten eggs are added, salt and pepper are added for seasoning, and the dish is fried until both sides are golden.
Canadian Living recipe: Spanish Tortilla
2. Patatas bravas - fried potatoes
Another popular vegetarian tapas dish is patatas bravas, fried potatoes served in a spicy tomato sauce. Bite-size potatoes are fried until crispy on the outside, and cooked through on the inside. The sauce is made by sweating onions and garlic until translucent, cooking the mixture down along with peeled and chopped tomatoes, paprika, and cayenne pepper into a thick sauce, and adding a splash of vinegar towards the end.
Spain is one of the largest producers of almonds in the world, and its cuisine reflects that abundance. A simple dish of almonds, whether fried and salted, or roasted with paprika, cumin and cayenne, is often served in bars. Ground almonds are also used extensively to thicken soups and stews as well as in desserts.
Canadian Living recipe: Salted Almonds
Page 1 of 2 - learn about more tasty tapas ideas on page 2 like Albondigas and Gambas al ajillo!
4. Albondigas - Spanish meatballs
For meat lovers, albondigas (Spanish meatballs) is a staple that appears on every tapas menu. The meatballs are simple: a mixture of pork, breadcrumbs, egg and spices, pan-fried until cooked through. They are then served in a tomato sauce made by simmering white wine, peas, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and cayenne pepper.
Canadian Living recipe: Giant Meatballs in Tomato Fennel Sauce
5. Salt cod
Seafood is a huge part of Spanish cuisine, and salt cod is a popular ingredient that can be mixed with potatoes to make fritters or to stuff in peppers. To make the mixture, combine poached and drained salt cod, mashed potatoes, garlic, eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Whether making at home or ordering in a restaurant, be sure to ask for sustainable Pacific salt cod.
Canadian Living recipe: Salt Cod Fritters
6. Paprika sauce
One of the most frequently used spices in Spain is paprika, which goes well with seafood and meat. A sauce made by reducing onions, garlic, paprika, tomatoes and white wine pairs well with mussels, shrimp and clams. It’s hard to believe that such a simple sauce with so few ingredients can have such explosive flavours.
Canadian Living recipe: Scallops and Shrimp with Sherry Paprika
7. Gambas al ajillo - garlic prawns
Another seafood dish that you will see on menus all over Spain is gambas al ajillo, or garlic prawns. These are ultra easy to make: Just combine chopped garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil in an oven-safe earthen dish, and bake in a 450°F (230°C) oven until the mixture sizzles. Add peeled shrimp and bake until cooked through, about 10 mins. Serve with crusty bread so you can pick up every last drop of that garlic oil.
Canadian Living recipe: Garlic Paprika Shrimp
Even if you don’t know much about Spanish cuisine, it doesn’t mean you can’t make delicious tapas with flair. You can create many different small dishes with Spanish cuisine staples like garlic, onions, paprika, saffron, Serrano ham, sherry vinegar, olives, red peppers and tomatoes. Some tapas dishes don’t require cooking at all, which is perfect when you are short on time. Marinate anything from anchovies and sardines to olives and cheese in vinegar, garlic and olive oil for a savoury treat.
Canadian Living recipe: Roasted Garlic Tapas
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<< Find potato omelettes, fried potatoes and spicy almonds on page 1