Hosting the Ultimate Tapas Party
Tapas, while Spanish in origin, exist in nearly every cuisine around the globe and range from light snacks to hearty appetizers, cold tastes to warm nibbles. Any crowd-friendly appetizer can take on tapas-style charm when served among a wide selection of small snacks. But no matter how tiny the taste, each bite should be packed with big flavor.
Start snacking with ten tips for hosting the ultimate tapas party, plus recipes for three quick and easy tapas: Shaved Asparagus and Ricotta Crostini, Roasted Chickpeas with Lime and Cumin, and Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp).
Master the Make-Ahead: Don’t shy away from the timesaving abilities inherent within the recipes you choose to make. The whole nature of tapas is that they involve multiple dishes, so make the most of any make-ahead elements, be it whisking together dressings, toasting bread slices or pre-measuring spice blends.
Maximize Your Ingredients: Keep grocery shopping and costs at a minimum by utilizing the same ingredients in multiple preparations, be it special spices, fresh citrus or various cheeses. For example, I’ve featured smoked paprika (pimentón) in both the Roasted Chickpeas and Gambas Al Ajillo recipes, as well as crunchy French bread in the Shaved Asparagus Crostini and Gambas Al Ajillo recipes.
Add Crunch: Texture is just as important as taste. Remember to include creamy and crunchy offerings, such as soft and hard cheeses, crispy breadsticks and leafy greens.
Simplify for Success: Simplicity shines when it comes to preparing multiple dishes for tapas-inspired get-togethers for four or 40. A timeline organizing the order and process of your recipes will provide practical insights about opportunities to multi-task in the kitchen.
Balance Hot and Cold: Plan for a mix of both hot and cold tapas to guarantee items that should be warmed are given the time and space needed in the oven to come to temperature. Utilizing your KitchenAid® Wall Oven with Even-Heat™ Technology means there’s no need to waste precious minutes rotating baking sheets to avoid hotspots.
Estimate Appetites: There’s no telling exactly how many servings of each small plate you’ll need to satisfy guests’ appetites, but an educated guess guarantees you won’t be a single bacon-wrapped date short of success. And when in doubt, aim for more than needed and enjoy some well-earned leftovers the next day.
Win with Room Temp: Foods that can be served at room temperature are a lifesaver when you’re serving a wide variety of tastes. Aim for a few tapas that are just as good when enjoyed at room temperature as they are when warm or chilled. This strategic approach will free up you (and your oven) and allow you to tend to other party needs … like that glass of sangria.
Mix and Match: Don’t hesitate to mix and match your serving dishes. The whole beauty of tapas is that they features a wide variety of tastes, so why not make the dishes they’re served in as eclectic as the recipes themselves?
Toast to Tapas: With so much emphasis on the food, it can be hard to remember their culinary counterpart: beverages. Consider offering a signature cocktail or mocktail to add a custom touch to your tapas lineup.
Go Grazing: No matter how small or large your entertaining space, spreading out your feast inspires guests to graze and socialize beyond the confines of your kitchen. And remember to provide enough toothpicks for a simple way to snatch each bite, which means fingers (and furniture) stay clean.
Shaved Asparagus and Ricotta Crostini
Makes 6-8 servings
1 medium French baguette
1 clove garlic
1/2 pound asparagus
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Slice the baguette at a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the slices with olive oil then bake them until golden brown and crispy, about 10 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and line a plate with paper towels. Blanch the asparagus in the water for 20 seconds then remove them to the plate to dry. (This will soften the asparagus slightly and ensure they retain their bright green color.)
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus length-wise into thin ribbons. (There’s no need to remove the tough ends first, as you can use them to more easily grip the asparagus while you peel them. Just make sure not to shave off any of the tougher part.) In a small bowl, toss the ribbons with the lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste.
Remove the bread from the oven, slice the top one-third off the clove of garlic and immediately rub one side of each toast with the garlic. Transfer the slices to a serving platter and top each with a dollop of ricotta. Arrange a few asparagus ribbons atop the ricotta and then drizzle the toasts with honey. Serve immediately.
Roasted Chickpeas with Lime and Cumin
Makes 4-6 servings
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Rinse, drain and pat the chickpeas dry. In a large bowl, toss the chickpeas with the olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt until evenly coated. Transfer the chickpeas to the baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer, and remove any loose shells.
Bake the chickpeas until crispy and golden, 25 to 30 minutes, tossing them halfway through. Remove the chickpeas from the oven, transfer them to a serving dish and serve warm or at room temperature.
Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)
Makes 4-6 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound (16/20 count) peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Crunchy bread, for serving
Add the olive oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat, warming it for 1 minute.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute until it’s golden brown.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the shrimp, paprika and lemon juice. Cook the shrimp, stirring to coat, until they turn pink on all sides, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the shrimp to a shallow bowl, garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with bread for dipping.
More Tapas-style recipes to try:
- Asian Meatballs with Hoisin-Blackberry Glaze
- Chorizo and Cheddar Potato Skins
- Italian Arancini (Rice Balls) with Marinara Sauce
- Homemade Falafel with Tahini Sauce
- Deep-Fried Ravioli On a Stick
- Pickled Deviled Eggs
- Crispy Baked Orange Chicken Wings
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*