Tapas

A couple of years ago, in the time before I was a vegan, Mrs.PeverilBlog and I were on holiday in Palma, Majorca.

For those of you who don’t know Majorca, it’s a small island off the east coast of Spain. It has been a cheap and popular holiday resort, especially for Brits and Germans, for over 40 years. It’s fair to say some parts of the island have been thoroughly spoiled by mass tourism. However other parts, particularly the capital Palma, are still great places to go.

We ended up with time to kill one afternoon. It was hot and we were hungry, wandering through the back streets of Palma town, not far from the famous cathedral. We came across a small tapas restaurant and went inside.

The restaurant couldn’t have seated more than ten people and there was only one other person in there. Sure, I’ve eaten tapas plenty of times at home in England but never before in Spain. This was something new and, it turned out, something special for me.

You’ll probably think it strange but the best part of eating there that day was realising how simple tapas dishes could be. Yes, yes, I know that tapas were originally small appetisers placed on top of your drink (“tapa” – a lid or cover) to keep the fruit-flies off between sips. But to see tapas done well, in a manner I could copy for myself at home, had a lasting effect on me and how I think about food.

In the picture below, from left to right, were:

– Chickpeas in olive oil, with parsley, finely chopped red pepper and white onion
– Spanish tortilla (potato omelette)
– Fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping
– Button mushrooms cooked in olive oil and garlic

Tapas dishes
Tapas in Palma, Majorca

They are four of the simplest dishes you could imagine (and the bread only needed cutting into slices!) but what a feast those four plates made that day.

Ever since then, I’ve kept a list in Evernote of potential tapas dishes. Since they’re usually made from items you’ve got in the store cupboard or the fridge, there’s rarely any special shopping or pre-planning involved. And with only a few ingredients for each dish, they’re quick to make and put on the table.

Sometimes simple, good food shared with your friends and loved ones is the best food in the world. No restaurant can match that.

Here’s a brief list of 15 quick, easy and cheap tapas dishes (vegan)
  • Small rounds of baguette or French bread, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Try to get the thick gloopy balsamic, sometimes called balsamic glaze, if you can. You can pour/squeeze a big blob of it into the middle of a saucer of olive oil and it will hold its shape nicely.
  • Patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) – try this recipe
  • Chickpeas with olive oil, parsley, and finely chopped red bell pepper and white onion.
  • If you don’t care for chickpeas, you could substitute butter beans (lima beans if you’re American?) instead. Use that tin from the back of your cupboard. You can flavour them with a traditional vinaigrette dressing, or try an olive oil/fresh lemon juice dressing.
  • Wilted spinach with chickpeas, drizzled with olive oil
  • Wilted spinach with raisins and toasted pine nuts
  • Button mushrooms cooked in olive oil and garlic
  • Green (Puy) lentils with small pieces of non-meat sausage
  • Spanish tortilla (potato omelette). Here is a vegan, non-dairy version: http://simpleveganblog.com/tortilla-spanish-omelette-vegan-and-glutenfree/
  • Tomato and grated carrot salad (dress it with olive oil, seasoning, lemon juice and chopped parsley)
  • Fried peppers and onions. Strips of brightly-coloured bell peppers and thinly sliced white onions, fried in olive oil. It’s as easy as it sounds, but here is a recipe if you want one.
  • Fried almonds. Sauté blanched almonds in a little olive oil. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with coarse grained salt, serve.
  • Fried cauliflower: fry the florets until you get some nice char marks, then serve sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Potato salad. Cook your potatoes (any type you have in the house) until soft but not disintegrating. Drain them, cool them in the fridge until cold and firm, then cut into 2-3 cm chunks. In a separate bowl, mix together a couple of tablespoons of vegan mayo, a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of mustard to make a dressing. Pour the dressing over the cold potatoes, add two finely-chopped spring onions, sprinkle some chopped chives and/or parsley and fold everything together gently.
  • The world’s easiest tomato salad that looks impressive. Get one beef tomato (US version: beefsteak tomato), slice it as thinly as you can and arrange it on a plate. Lay the slices in a nice overlapping pattern, drizzle with olive oil (and some balsamic glaze if you have it – see above), season with salt and pepper, and scatter some basil or parsley leaves nonchalantly on and around the tomatoes. Looks great, couldn’t be easier!
  • Bonus: For the more adventurous, you could try a vegan paella: – http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/griddledartichokeand_91479
Make half a dozen of these dishes, invite a couple of friends around and share some love.

 

Tapas
(Front to back) Tomato & asparagus salad; garlic mushrooms; aubergine paste; carrot & orange salad; fried almonds; vegan tortilla

I am a vegan so I can’t give you any suggestions for meat or fish-derived tapas, apart from “please stop eating meat and fish” 🙂

I’m sure you can Google it though.

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