Have your own fiesta with these 4 delicious Spanish tapas

"Tapa" is Spanish and literally translates as "top" or "cover." The tasty appetizers from the southern European country have taken the world by storm, and there are many legends as to why the word "tapa" is used to describe Spanish starters. One of them says that the innkeepers once covered alcoholic drinks with a slice of bread so that flies wouldn't end up in the drink. Over time, the bread became more and more elaborate, and delicious toppings were eventually added. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, but in any case, there are as many different tapas as there are grains of sand on the beach, and that makes us extremely happy. Kick off your fiesta and load up your plate with four of the best homemade Spanish tapas recipes out there!

1. Empanadas

You'll need (for 8 portions):

For the filling:

  • vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 16 oz ground meat
  • black olives, finely chopped
  • cumin
  • salt
  • sliced manchego cheese

For the dough:

  • 12¾ oz flour
  • 6½ oz butter
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • 2¾ fl oz milk
  • flour for the work surface
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Here's how:

1. Start with the ground meat filling: pour plenty of oil in a pan and allow it to get hot before adding the onion, garlic, and ground meat of your choice. Mix in the olives, cumin, and salt and fry everything together. Remove the pan from the stove.

2. For the dough, knead all the ingredients together using a hand mixer with the dough hooks attachment. If possible, place the bowl in a cold place.

Sprinkle flour on your work surface and roll out the dough. Make sure not to roll it out too thin, otherwise it will tear once the filling has been added later. Using a medium-sized bowl, cut eight proportional circles in the dough.

3. Add some of the meat filling and a piece of cheese to the center of each dough ring. Fold the dough over and seal the edges. To create a ridged design, press the edge and fold one of the corners upwards. Using both fingers, work your way along the edge until you reach the other side — one index finger presses on the edge, while the other index finger pushes up a finger's width of the edge behind it (watch the video to see how it's done). Repeat these steps with all of the empanadas and then brush each one with the egg wash.

4. Bake the empanadas at 360°F for 25 minutes.

2. Champiñones al gratín rellenos de espinaca (Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms Au Gratin)

You'll need (for 1 portion):

  • 4 mushrooms
  • 4½ oz steamed spinach
  • 2¾ fl oz Béchamel sauce
  • 2¼ oz shredded cheese

Here's how:

1. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and place them upside down in a heat-resistant dish. Fill each mushroom with the steamed spinach and pour the Béchamel sauce over it. Sprinkle the top with cheese.

2. Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes at 360°F.

3. Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

You'll need:

For the filling:

  • 2⅔ oz butter
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3½ oz Serrano ham, chopped
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 2⅔ oz flour
  • 13½ fl oz milk

For the breading:

  • flour
  • eggs, beaten
  • breadcrumbs 

You'll also need:

  • oil for frying

Here's how:

1. Melt the butter in a pot. Add the onion, ham, and nutmeg and let the ingredients cook briefly in the butter. Stir in the flour. Gradually add in the milk while constantly stirring. Allow the mixture to cool down.

2. Using both hands, form a palm-sized portion that tapers off at the end. First roll the croquette in the flour, then dip in the egg wash, and finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the rest of the filling mixture.

3. Fry the croquettes in hot oil for about six minutes.

4. Dátiles con bacon (Bacon-Wrapped Dates)

You'll need:

  • dates
  • rectangular slices of manchego cheese
  • bacon strips
  • honey

Here's how:

1. First cut the dates lengthwise on one side and core them. Then put a piece of cheese inside and wrap the date in a slice of bacon. Stick a toothpick through the middle to keep everything in place. 

2. Brush each strip of bacon all the way around with honey and place the wrapped dates on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. Bake the bacon-wrapped dates for about 15 minutes at 350°F.

These finger foods are perfect for any party, and work in both the summer and winter months, because no matter when you decide to indulge, one bite of these delicious tapas, and you'll feel like you're being kissed by the Spanish sun!

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