Tapas Recipes to Whip Up in a Flash


If you’re looking to add a new twist to your cocktail party, why not try serving tapas? These are appetizers that originate from Spain, and they encompass everything from a bowl of oil-cured olives to small roasted chops served with a dipping sauce. The premise behind serving tapas is that this is “small” food, meaning guests take a sampling of all of the dishes presented.

There are some wonderful legends surrounding how tapas came to be served as a pairing with wine/alcohol. The word “tapa” means “lid” or “cover” in Spanish. One very popular bit of folklore says that the Castilian King Alfonso X, known as “El Sabio” (The Wise One) was traveling through a small town in the province of Cádiz. He stopped in a local tavern and asked the innkeeper for a glass of sherry. A gusty wind was blowing through the tavern, so the innkeeper served the king his sherry in a glass covered by a slice of ham to prevent soot from getting into it. King Alfonso liked the wine and ham combination so much that when he asked for a second glass, he told the innkeeper to put another “tapa” on it.

Because tapas are finger foods, they are quick and easy to prepare. The following recipes, reprinted with permission, are representative of the kinds of dishes that are served at a tapas party:

Pincho Meritage Poached Olives and Figs

Created by Kendall-Jackson Wine Center Executive Chef Justin Wangler

(“Pincho” in Spanish means “food on a skewer”.)


1 cup Kendall-Jackson Red Meritage wine
2 oz dried black mission figs, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 oz kalamata olives (Greek oil-cured olives found in the Deli section of the supermarket), pitted and cut in half lengthwise
2 oz black pepper salami, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 oz dry jack cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
12 bamboo skewers (4-inch)


In a small saucepan, combine the wine, figs, and olives. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain off wine, and let cool. To assemble the pinchos, place one piece each of fig, salami, olive, and cheese onto each skewer. Serve immediately. Makes 12 skewers.

Grilled Ham and Cheese With Apple Butter, Brie, and Proscuitto

Created by Kendall-Jackson Wine Center Executive Chef Justin Wangler


1 loaf artisan (crusty) bread, sliced thin
4 oz brie cheese
4 oz apple butter
4 oz proscuitto (Italian ham found in the Deli section of the supermarket), sliced very thin
2 oz whole butter


Spread thin layer of brie on one side of a slice of bread. Spread apple butter on 1 side of another slice of bread. Arrange 2-3 slices of proscuitto on the apple butter side and top with the brie side. Press slices together to form a sandwich. Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook sandwich on both sides until golden brown and cheese has melted. Let cool for one minute before slicing into 2-inch pieces. Serve immediately. Makes 24 appetizers

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Created by Carol Selva, former employee of the Picaro and Esperpento Tapas Restaurants in San Francisco


Bacon – 8 slices
Pitted Dates – 24
Toothpicks – 24


Cut each slice of Bacon into three sections. Place on a paper towel on microwave-safe plate and cover with another paper towel (you may need to do this step in batches). Microwave each plateful of bacon sections for 2-3 minutes, making sure bacon remains soft and pliable. Preheat your oven’s broiler on High. Remove bacon from microwave and wrap each date with a section of bacon, securing with a toothpick that goes through the middle of the date. Place on a cookie sheet, making sure none of the dates are touching each other. Place cookie sheet of bacon-wrapped dates under your broiler (about 6 inches away) and broil for 3 minutes on each side. Allow dates to cool before serving. Makes 24 servings.


Created by Solea, a tapas restaurant in Waltham, Massachusetts)

(“Chuletta” in Spanish refers to either a lamb or pork chop. In this recipe, Baby lamb chops are used.)


3 lbs Baby lamb chops

1 bottle white wine (1.5L)
3 lbs dried apricots
8 cups chicken stock
2 cans apricot nectar


Grill lamb chops to medium rare, set aside and keep warm. Place all glaze ingredients in a pan and simmer until the mixture starts to thicken. Then remove pan from heat and strain the mixture. Pool the strained glaze in the center of a large serving platter, and place lamb chops over the glaze. Serve immediately.

Round out your tapas table with bowls of nuts and olives, a cheese platter including Manchego cheese, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, and a platter of Serrano ham, a dry-cured Spanish ham; then let your guests graze to their hearts’ content. The good food, paired with some good wine, should get everybody into the party spirit.

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