These croquettes are small nuggets of rich béchamel sauce that’s been thickened and flavoured, left to chill and then breaded and fried. They are scrumptious little morsels.
The combination of ingredients for this delicious savoury pastry is classic. The great news is that it works brilliantly with a whole variety of other options. You can freeze what you don’t eat or just eat the leftovers as snacks. You can also make this several hours in advance and bake it just before serving.
Patatas bravas simply translates as brave potatoes. They are sliced fried potatoes smothered in a rich tomato sauce with a hint of smoky spiciness.
Boquerones are tiny butterflied anchovies, in a very acidic marinade that serves to cure the fish as well as add flavour. This recipe can only be made with fresh fish, so the smallest sardines will do if anchovies are not available.
A spring vegetable native to the Mediterranean, asparagus is well worth the wait for its unbeatable flavour and freshness. This dish is so simple to prepare and the combination of textures from the asparagus, spinach and pine kernels is a treat.
This is an elementary tapas dish, served with lashings of olive oil and salt in every good tapas bar. To the eye, these small smoky peppers all appear the same, but eating them is a game of gastronomic Russian roulette, as around one in every nine is fiery hot. So dive in with a cool drink in hand in case you happen to pick a feisty one.
The great thing about doing a small tortilla is that it feeds 4 in a tapas portion perfectly, but also allows the dish to be slightly underdone, meaning a gooey middle.
While the ingredients are simple the result is excellent. Garlic really brings out the flavour of mushrooms. Be sure to have plenty of bread to soak up the delicious juices.
Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) is one of the best blood sausages on the market. The best variety is the rice-filled one. Pairing it with spicy peppers and quails' eggs is a very classic combination.
Finding a crowd-pleasing vegetarian version of tapas can be quite a feat, but these oozy spinach croquettes are a winner with everyone.
Slow-cooked pork ribs smothered in barbecue sauce and so well cooked they virtually fall off the bones. Need I say more?
This crunchy dish is an exciting take on potato chips. Chorizo is an unusual sausage, as it turns deliciously crispy when fried. Just be sure to fry the potatoes first; otherwise, the oils and spices released by the chorizo will stain the potatoes red.
Three different types of flavourful Mediterranean sausage served with sticky balsamic onions. Bliss.
This unusual salad is made especially striking due to the quantity of strong but complementary flavours involved. Pickled walnuts, a treat often found at Christmastime, go perfectly with meaty duck and sweet beetroot.
Normally to make a ballotine — a boned and rolled joint — is considered a little bit tricky. So get your butcher to do the hard work of boning the meat, leaving you the easy task of stuffing and rolling. The result is fantastic juicy meat with aromatic stuffing.
Another under used cut of meat is the hanger steak, also known as butcher's steak, which is very lean and tender. It becomes a good wintry starter when paired with celeriac.
An Italian special is a good steak with a rich porcini cream, but cream sauces can get quite rich. That’s the great thing about eating tapas — the serving size means you can have a little bit of something decadent. It doesn’t get much more decadent than this.
A rich red wine reduction dresses and glosses beef tenderloin while the blue cheese slowly oozes as it melts against the meat. Rioja is a quintessentially Spanish wine and a perfect partner for beef tenderloin.
This Italian classic has had a Spanish makeover with anchovy mayo and crisped garlic.
It cannot be denied that kebabs of tender chunks of marinated and lightly charred lamb are always a pleasing prospect. Yet when served on top of emerald green broad beans with a zingy lemony dressing, this dish takes on elegance far beyond the common kebab.
Lamb cutlets are a ready-made finger food, with their own holders making them a really fun addition to your tapas menu. This recipe shows off lamb at its best. Get a rack of lamb that's either middle neck, which is cheaper with more flavour but only five bones or the best end of neck, which is more delicate and more expensive, with eight bones.
This classic dish is normally made using milk-fed baby lambs. Most butchered lambs are around a year of age and on a solid diet, making their meat darker and richer. Milk-fed lamb is therefore hard to find. This recipe calls for half a lamb shoulder, making it the perfect size to bring to the table and tear apart.
The most iconic of Spanish dishes, the joy of paella comes from flinging in whatever big-flavoured ingredients you fancy, so feel free to experiment.
This dramatic dish is a very special way to serve fresh fish. The crust is very thick, and it must be cracked open like a shell to reveal the perfectly cooked white fish within. It is important to protect the fish from becoming too salty – the skin of the fish will protect it all over, but use foil or waxed parchment paper along the belly slit to prevent the salt from seeping inside the fish. Use a large fish if you're cooking for a dinner party or special family meal or if there are just two of you, you can use a smaller fish and cook for a slightly shorter time.
A favourite tapas dish of really simple finger food. The paprika and honey marinade gives the chicken an irresistible sticky, spicy glaze.
Serrano ham or “mountain ham” is a typical dry-cured Spanish ham. This means it is generally served raw in thin slices, but when cooked it crisps up beautifully, creating a rich salty flavour that complements the chicken, zingy lemon and herbs.
This simple recipe, translated as “chicken fried with garlic”, is a staple on any traditional tapas menu. Do not allow the garlic to overcook and become too brown as the flavour will turn unpleasantly bitter.
This popular way of serving prawns in Spain should arrive at the table 'pil-pileando', which means the fragrant scarlet oil should be bubbling and spluttering as the dish is set down.
If you have not used it before, do not be put off by the squid ink. It is a very familiar ingredient in coastal Mediterranean cooking, where it is prized for its subtle iron flavour.
This unusual dish of sweet scallops accompanied by the deep iron flavour of morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) and crisped sage leaves is quite spectacular.
Relaxing days by the pool followed by romantic nights under the stars — there’s no better way to relive the pleasures of that lazy Spanish break than with a glass of this refreshing summer drink. If mixing jugs of Sangria for a party, avoid making them more than 2 hours before serving. Keep the jugs tightly covered with plastic wrap, or the red wine will start to oxidise and the drink will lose its freshness.
Crema catalana is a pudding that’s very similar to crème brûlée, but the custard base is not baked but thickened and set with a little cornflour. It has a great depth and warmth of flavour from the lemon and cinnamon.
Churros are sausage-shaped donuts that are meant for plunging in the thick chocolate sauce served with them. They're a tradition all day and are also eaten for breakfast.
The best lava cake recipe you will find. Serve with pistachio ice cream for a bit of Mediterranean flair.
Turron is the Spanish version of halva. It sticks to your teeth when you eat it but crumbles when you handle it. More like a candy than a dessert, it's essential alongside a dark cup of coffee.
Fritto misto is a traditional tapas or appetizer comprised of a selection of deep-fried meats, fish and vegetables. This recipe is a combination of deep-fried calamari, whitebait and prawns, with a interesting crunch of courgette for good measure.
This Spanish salad of grilled vegetables is served all over the Mediterranean in various different combinations.
The combination of pork, morcilla and apples is a pork lover's dream and a well-loved tapas dish, too. Iberico pork comes from the Spanish breed of black Iberian pig, whose unusual flavour is a result of the acorns in its diet. Good-quality pork loin will act as a more than adequate substitute, if pork tenderloin is unavailable.
This quick sticky stew is a hearty, rustic and homely dish that is really satisfying when you want something light but comforting. The grating of the orange rind at the end gives an interesting twist to the flavour.
This is the absolute cornerstone of tapas, a simple but vital centrepiece. It can be easily presented on a wooden board (olive wood is wonderful) at the centre of the table to share.
This Spanish and much finer version of the classic liver with bacon and onions is enriched with sweet sherry, which makes it the most delicious way to serve calve's liver.
This is a Spanish favourite and they literally squish really ripe fresh tomatoes into the bread so it absorbs all the flavour.
This is an Italian appetizer, but it makes the most wonderful tapas. Expect pink lamb, surrounded by crisp fragrant crumbs dotted with capers and herbs.
A whole globe artichoke becomes a magical treat as you peel off the leaves, dip and eat as you work your way to the more meaty heart. To serve this, everyone just reaches into the centre of the table where you have the single artichoke on a plate and the vinaigrette in a bowl next to it — just dunk away and eat together.
This recipe encapsulates the simplicity of rustic Spanish cooking. The mingling flavours of the marinade combine beautifully with the sweet succulent prawns, while charred edges from the barbecue or griddle give the slightest of crunches and a heady smoked aroma. You can substitute jumbo prawns, but the king prawns or royal red prawns look much more authentic.
Marinating cheese might seem odd, but smooth manchego is complemented deliciously by the piquant cumin and peppers.
Punchy and piquant, piquillo peppers are a regular feature in Portuguese cooking. These scarlet beauties are often found pickled or tinned, which makes them a fantastic item to keep in your pantry. When stuffing the peppers, handle them with the utmost care as the skins tear easily, which will ruin their ability to contain the salt cod mixture.
The slightly smoky flavour of the grilled courgettes is perfect with the freshness of the pesto, the piquancy of the garlic and the lovely fresh intensity of the fresh basil.
Sharing boards are popular in many restaurants and provide a sociable, informal start to a meal or a casual evening in with friends. The deli counter is laden with goodies, so take the ones suggested here as a starting point. Look for foods with a range of colours and textures and take a few minutes to fold salami in half or arrange the ham in rolls to look good. Choose an attractive loaf of bread to serve on the side.
Clams and Spanish chorizo make an exceptionally good combination. The smoky meatiness of the sausage brings an interesting dimension to the seafood. This is lovely served in a big tapas dish, with a few chunks of crusty bread to mop up the delicious spicy juices at the end.
Meaty little balls with a fragrant selection of whole spices and the unexpected crunch of bright green pistachio nuts. Delicious!
This tasty but light dish is made all the more special when drizzled with a little truffle oil. Celeriac brings an unusual freshness of flavour to the gratin, cutting through the richness of the cream.
Skirt steak is a cut of steak taken from the side of the animal between sirloin and flank. It tends to be under used outside of France (where it’s known as bavette d’aloyau), which is a shame because it’s one of the most delicious beef cuts. Shallots and roasted bone marrow complement the meat, producing a modern tapas classic.
The delicate and perfumed flavour of quince is a great match for earthy duck. Cooking the fruit in this selection of spices gives a subtle, exciting twist to the sauce.
It’s still the simplest of tapas that are the crowd-pleasers and grilled beef skewers dipped into a classic béarnaise sauce could please a stadium.
These sweetbreads are magnificent coated in the sticky king of sherries — Pedro Ximénez — and veal jus. Eating sweetbreads when dining out is really trendy, but few realise quite how easy it is to cook them at home.
Rosemary and oily fish are a marriage made in heaven! Make sure you get your fishmonger to butterfly the sardines, which means the centre bone is removed, leaving a boneless piece of fish. As a result, these lovely crisp little fishes can be served whole on rustic toast to be eaten with ease and pleasure.
Baking slices of chorizo in red wine tenderises the chorizo and also gives them a lovely winey kick. The heady rich sauce is just gorgeous sopped up with a chunk of crusty gluten-free bread.