Green Tapas Menu for Spring

Tapas are a type of cuisine from Spain. They are really just a few bites of meat, cheese or olives or toasts with toppings. I should know better than to call this a tapas menu, but these dishes are too simple to fit into the “small plate” category.

What’s the difference?

Much of what is called “tapas” these days are really just a smaller version of a normal dish. Meanwhile, Spanish tapas are relatively simple items that are best served in small porttion – olives, chunks of spicy sausage, croquettes, stuffed pimento peppers, etc.

A small serving of spaghetti with urchin and smoked pancetta is not magically a tapa because it is small. Italians already have their own word for small plates that starts the meal: antipasto (or primi piatti for pasta or risotto).

While I might be taking a little liberty, I think that these dishes would be served in tapas in Spain if these foods were from popular (or grown at all) in Spain. Who knows, I might stumble across a dish of fava beans with my vaso di vino tinto in Madrid next week and be proven right.

Ideal for Mingling

In the meantime, this spring-y spread is perfect for a cocktail-style party centering more around mingling than a seated dinner. Instead having to sit so they can properly tackle a plate full of food, guests can grab a dish and finish it in a few bites without leaving their conversation.

For drinks, stick with light crisp wines that echo the taste of the food without over-powering them. Chardonnay would be fine, or a nice-sipping Pinot Grigio. You could even branch out to a crisp Pinot Gris or a fruity rosé from the Navarro region of Spain.

Green Tapas Menu for Spring

To serve, track down every ramekin, dessert plate, or condiment bowl you have available. If you don’t have a flea market’s worth of plates and bowls, pick up some attractive disposable plates at the grocery store.

Arrange each bowl or plate with a tapa-sized amount of once dish: two to three tablespoons fava beans, fennel salad, braised cucumber, or herb salad; two tomato slices or basil cigars, or an artichoke. Set up your food table with a mosaic of mini dishes and let your guests sample throughout the night.

  • mins 1-10: Set the water boiling for the fava beans and artichoke steamer. Shell the fava beans and cook. Start the braised cucumber.
  • mins 11-15: Assemble the herb salad and slice and dress the tomatoes.
  • mins 16-18: Assemble the basil cigars.
  • mins 19-20: Make the artichoke dipping sauce.
  • mins 21-23: Shell and dress the fava beans.
  • mins 24-28: Make the fennel salad.
  • mins 29-30: Distribute the tapas to your serving bowls.