Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spanish Tapas Dinner Party Menu

marinated manchego
fennel and winter citrus salad
tapas meatballs

New Year's Eve 2014 

Spanish Tapas Dinner Menu

Empanadas Two Ways
Chicken, Chorizo and Olives
Roasted Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion & Smoked Gouda

Marinated Manchego with Roasted Peppers

Patatas Bravas

Tapas Meatballs

Tomato Bread

Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Goat Cheese

Artichoke Olive Tapenade

Spanish Cheeses, Charcuterie and Olives

Fennel and Winter Citrus Salad

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust

Cranberry Shrub Cocktails

Sparkling White Wine


This is one of my favorite menus and I think one of the best that I've planned and executed. Recipe notes and links after the jump. 

Recipe notes: 

The chicken empanadas are amazing and much better than the name sounds. They are not difficult to make, but I found the dough to be a little fussy. I think this was largely due to doubling the recipe and not having big enough bowls. It became too unwieldy. I wanted vegetarian options, but the chicken empanadas are the clear winner. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen here

The marinated manchego was also a winner, especially since you can make it ahead of time. Recipe is below.

For the patatas bravas, Andrew made our favorite home fries and I used this sauce from Saveur.

The tapas meatballs were even better a day or two later when the flavors in the sauce really melded. They aren't much to look at, but trust me, these are fabulous! Recipe is below.

Tomato bread is one of my favorite tapas. Rather than rubbing whole tomatoes onto the bread, which is the normal way to do it, I pulsed whole canned tomatoes in the food processor and then strained them twice so I had a nice pulp. I wanted to simplify things for the night of the party and I could do this step ahead of time. See a recipe for tomato bread here.

Slow roasting tomatoes and pairing them with goat cheese and bread or crackers is one of my favorite snacks and a great appetizer when hosting guests. Quarter Roma tomatoes, toss lightly in olive oil and sea salt and bake at 200 degrees for two to three hours. I often pair the tomatoes and goat cheese with this artichoke olive tapenade

The fennel and citrus salad came out even better than I was expecting. It's salad perfection, in my opinion. The citrus cuts the sometimes harsh flavor of the fennel. I used my mandoline to cut the fennel very thin so they were almost like rice noodles. You can use whatever combination of citrus you have on hand. I like a combination of grapefruit, blood oranges, and navel oranges. Recipe is below. 

The dark chocolate tart is always a hit, and it was a good option to pair with the tapas. I put it out on a cake stand so people could serve themselves when they were ready for dessert.

And finally the cranberry shrub cocktail. I've been wanting to make a shrub for a while, and this seemed like a good opportunity. It was fun to make the shrub syrup, and the cocktails were tasty and pretty. They were not everyone's cup of tea given the vinegar-y taste, but everyone was excited to try at least one. I served them with vodka because that's what I had on hand, but I think gin would be good too. I used this recipe.


Marinated Manchego with Roasted Peppers
Adapted slightly from Epicurious

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
3 green onions, chopped 
1 shallot, minced 
1 teaspoon cumin seeds 
About 10 ounces Spanish Manchego cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices 
About 1 cup roasted red and yellow peppers, sliced into thin strips (enough to cover each piece of sliced cheese)

Whisk oil, green onions, shallot, and cumin seeds in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange cheese slices in 13x9" baking dish. Place 1 roasted pepper strip on top of each cheese slice. Pour dressing over; cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and heat until cheese is just softened. About 5 minutes. Serve with crostini, crackers or baguette slices. 

Note: I found the cumin seeds in the bulk spices at my grocery store. Don't leave these out. They add so much flavor to the dish! You can't substitute cumin powder.

Tapas Meatballs
From Saveur

1 1⁄2 lbs. coarsely ground beef
1 1⁄2 lbs. coarsely ground pork
1⁄2 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup flour

1 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large leek, white part only, chopped
1 dried bay leaf
2 tbsp. flour
2 1⁄2 cups beef broth
1 1⁄2 cups dry white wine

For the meatballs: Mix together the beef, pork, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let chill for 1 hour. Put flour into a bowl. Using wet hands, form meat mixture into 20 even-size meatballs. Roll each in flour; shake off excess; transfer to sheet pan.

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown half the meatballs in the skillet, 10–12 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining 1/2 cup oil and meatballs, leaving oil and caramelized bits in skillet.

For the sauce: Heat skillet (with reserved oil) over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onions, leeks, and bay leaf and cook until softened, 12–15 minutes. Add flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and wine, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until thickened, 12–14 minutes.

Let cool; discard bay leaf. Purée sauce in blender in batches. Return sauce to skillet along with meatballs; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until thickened and meatballs are cooked, 16–18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fennel and Winter Citrus Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 medium-large fennel bulb, leaves and stems trimmed off
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
3-5 pieces of citrus such as pink grapefruit, blood oranges, navel oranges
1 small shallot, peeled and cut into paper-thin slices
10 mint leaves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest

Slice about 1/2 inch from bottom of fennel and discard. Slice fennel very thinly on a mandoline, benriner or with a knife, starting with flat bottom side. Toss in serving bowl with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Trim all peel and pith from citrus. Holding peeled fruit over bowl containing fennel, use sharp knife to cut sections from membrane and let them drop into bowl. Squeeze remaining membrane over bowl to sprinkle salad with remaining juice, and discard membrane. Add shallots, mint leaves, olive oil and toss gently. Sprinkle with lime zest.


  1. Oh my goodness that menu looks AMAZING. I must come over and eat at your place asap!

  2. Oh man, looks like you sure can throw a dinner party! I need to try the meatballs recipe! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks, Kristy! I wish throwing dinner parties was my job! haha, I wish. The meatballs are so good - I hope you like them.

  3. YUM! This sounds so delicious! I made those empanadas for Christmas presents one year, and I thought they were one of the best things I've ever made. I think next time I would add the olives after cooking the rest of the filling though, because they seemed to lose a lot of punch. I want to eat this entire menu!!!


    1. Yes, that's a good idea. I found that the olives lost most of their punch too. The filling was so delicious even without that punch, but I like your idea. I still have some dough in the freezer so I'll be making them again soon!

  4. well when are you opening up your own restaurant??!?!?!?!? if/when you do, i would come in for a visit FOR SURE!!!!

  5. I AM PRINTING OUT THESE RECIPES! salivating over here!


Hey, thank you!

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