|Spanish tapas menu lets a variety of small plates shine|
If you haven't tried tapas, either in a local restaurant or in your own kitchen, you're missing out. These Spanish-inspired appetizers or snacks are one of the most popular food trends of the moment, and they work well in our hot, humid climate—which is akin to that of the sun-drenched Iberian peninsula—because they typically use a lot of the fresh, citrusy, cooling ingredients indigenous to both places.
Though tapas is relatively new on the local food scene, the culinary genre has been around a long time. Though many think tapas means “taste”—because it's served as a small, taster-size portion of food—the word is actually derived from the Spanish “tapar,” which means “to cover.” Traditionally, Spain bartenders placed a slice of bread topped with a piece of cured salty ham over a glass of wine when they served it to keep out the fruit flies. The idea evolved and bars and restaurants throughout Spain began serving little appetizer portions or small plates of food to enjoy along with a glass of wine or sherry.
In the past 10 years, tapas bars and restaurants have become popular in the U.S., particularly in the South. They can be served hot or cold, and the foods can range from something as simple as olives along with cubes of cheese and ham to entire meals of meats, seafood, eggs and vegetables served on small plates.
Because tapas is inherently appropriate for this area and because it enables the diner to sample several dishes and foods without filling up on a single one, we think a tapas menu is perfect for a dinner party or gathering of friends. We like experimenting with several different dishes and encouraging friends to try out their own and bring them to a tapas-style potluck, where everyone can partake in the feast.
This menu is particular well suited to that. The Moorish Pork Kabobs are delicious and flavorful, and made using cubed pork tenderloin, which we like because it's always tender and really hard to do wrong. The flavors in the rub come from a blend of exotic yet readily available spices, including cumin, turmeric and paprika.
The Spanish Tortilla is not like the flat corn or flour pancakes you find in a Tex-Mex restaurant. Rather, they're more like an omelet made with potatoes and onions. It's cut into wedges and can be served warm or at room temperature and makes a nice complement to the Moorish Pork.
To tie it altogether, we suggest a salad of Marinated Mixed Olives With Grape Tomatoes. This zesty, Mediterranean-style salad is delicious and refreshing, and can be served on small pita chips, atop the Moorish Pork or alongside the Spanish Tortilla. During this super-hot season, a tapas menu is perfect to serve family or friends. Best of all, it makes for effortless entertaining.
Looking for some of the ingredients found in these dishes? Check out either location of Calandro's. Both stores have a great mix of imported olives, interesting spices and a good meat section.
Moorish Pork Kabobs
Marinated Olives and Grape Tomatoes
Serves 6. Recipes by Tracey Koch.
Moorish Pork Kabobs
2 lbs. pork tenderloin
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. dried oregano
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Trim the pork tenderloin and remove the silver skin from them. Cut the tenderloin into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large food storage bag and set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
3. Pour the marinade over the cubed pork, seal the bag, and shake to evenly distribute the marinade over the pork.
4. Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow the pork to marinate for 1 to 3 hours.
5. Preheat the grill on medium high heat.
6. Thread the pork on skewers and grill 6 to 8 minutes on each side or just until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the grill and serve warm.
Marinated Mixed Olives and Grape Tomatoes
8 oz. Spanish green olives
8 oz. Black Kalamata olives
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic sliced thin
1 Tbsp. fresh coarsely chopped rosemary
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup olive oil
1. In a large bowl, combine the olives and tomatoes and set aside.
2. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the olives and tomatoes.
3. Cover and chill for several hours or up to a day, stirring occasionally to evenly distribute the marinade. Serve and keep the leftovers in an airtight container chilled for up to a week.
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 clove minced garlic
6 large eggs
1. Place the potatoes into a large pot of cold water and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until they just become tender. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool.
2. Peel the cooked potatoes and slice them into ¼-inch slices and set aside.
3. In a large skillet, sauté the chopped onions in olive oil along with half the salt and all the pepper for 3 minutes.
4. Add in the garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 30 seconds.
5. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the onion and garlic mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
6. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the pan and place a layer of the sliced potatoes on the bottom. Spoon half the sautéed onion mixture over the potatoes and layer with more potatoes. Spoon the remaining onion mixture on top and place the pan back on the stove over medium high heat.
7. As the potatoes are beginning to brown in the pan, beat the 6 eggs along with the remaining salt.
8. Pour the eggs over the potatoes, gently shaking the pan to allow all the eggs to trickle through the layers of potatoes to the bottom of the pan.
9. Allow the eggs to cook for a few minutes, then gently pull back the cooked edges of the tortilla and tilt the pan allowing the uncooked portion of the eggs to run underneath.
10. Once the eggs are almost set, gently run a spatula around the sides to help release the tortilla and slide it onto a large plate.
11. Cover the plate with the pan and invert the tortilla back into the pan, continuing to cook on the other side. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until the tortilla is set and golden on the top and bottom. Slide the tortilla back onto a large plate and allow it to cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve.
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