Spanish Tapas

For me, with every great memory and life's milestone, comes a story about the food that was enjoyed. Food has always played a major role in my life. My dad worked in the food industry. Growing up, my mom was a fantastic cook and entertained often. I was introduced to amazing, slightly uncommon, gourmet ingredients, at a fairly young age. These experiences definitely influenced my palate and further, my skills as a caterer.

Last week, I shared about our travels to Spain, scheduled for June. Fortunately, we are traveling with friends whose love for food is as great as ours.

To fully experience Spain and it's food culture, is to be crowding a small table at a local tavern with old friends and new. Indulging in bite-sized tapas. Plates, stacked high, with local cheeses, nuts, cured hams, fresh bread. Drinks being passed from bar to table. It is that unique and generous culture that I am so drawn to. A culture, where lingering around platters of food, catching up with old acquaintances, is a welcomed tradition.

Tapas, small, shared bites, are among my favorite recipes to prepare and enjoy. Generally, they require little work, and in most cases, can be served at room temperature (and prepared ahead). Grilled scallions, complimented with Romesco, are among my favorite tapas recipes. Salud!


In late March, early April, the region, Cataluña, celebrates the festival of the calçots, a cross between a leek and green onions. The calçots are bundled after being harvested, and grilled, until the outer layer is charred and wilted. I was first introduced to this celebration on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's, No Reservations. The recipe, while not completely traditional, has become a mainstay in my culinary files.

ONE: Heat your grill (either gas or charcoal), until extremely hot. My gas grill was around 450 degrees.
TWO: Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt over 4 large bunches of green onions.
THREE: Place flat on grill and allow to char and wilt, about 2 minutes per side.
FOUR: Remove grilled onions and place on a pan, lined with sheets of newspaper.
FIVE: Wrap the grilled onions in the newspaper, and allow to steam for about 10 minutes.
SIX: If eaten by themselves, the onions can be served with the root end. Otherwise, cut the root off from the greens.

ROMESCO (adapted from Naomi Hebberoy's recipe)

2 ancho chiles, stems and seeds discarded
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves
3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted
1 cup whole grain bread cubes
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 large peppers, roasted (roasting recipe)
salt/pepper to taste

ONE: Place the dried chiles and boiling water in a bowl. Allow the chiles to soften, about 10 minutes.
TWO: Preheat oven to 425. Spread bread cubes on a sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over cubes and toast in oven until crunchy, about 7-8 minutes.
THREE: Drain the chiles, but reserve about 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.
FOUR: Add the chiles and half of the reserved soaking liquid to a processor. Process until pureed. 
FIVE: Add almonds, garlic, bread cubes, roasted peppers and tomato to processor. Turn on the processor and slowly pour in the olive oil, until the consistency is thick. I prefer a chunkier spread to a smoother consistency. Add the cilantro and pulse.
SIX: Serve on a toasted crostini, draped with the grilled onions. Other options: with a frittata, chicken, steak, spread on a sandwich.

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