Traditional tapas restaurants, and ones specializing in twists on tapas, have sprouted up all across the USA. I’m particularly fond of traditional tapas dishes. And I love the general concept of it. It is believed that the tradition was originated by King Alfonso X of Castille and Leon’s chef to treat the King’s exhaustion by feeding him small amounts of food throughout the day. Today tapas are a staple of Spanish bars that simply appear next to patrons’ served drinks. Iberian bars are family gathering places where one can stop for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and post-dinner repast with family and friends. Tapas dishes can have regional flair, but many are found all over Spain.
Here in America chefs have taken liberty with the genre and put their own stamps on it, sometimes simply calling them small plates. I’ve enjoyed lots of traditional tapas dishes, but am always interested in seeing where I, or others, can go with a concept. I like to make different tapas samplers. One I came up with last year when the weather started to heat up is a zucchini grill in which I grilled zucchini four different ways. Grilling keeps the heat out of the kitchen. I like the long, thin, green squash in the warm months because it is light and cooks quickly so the kitchen doesn’t get too hot when you cook it inside. And it tastes good both raw and cooked, and in both hot and cold forms. It’s best to make the chilled ones first, and those to serve hot last.
To make my Warm Weather Tapas I grill zucchini 3 different ways:
· Cut 2 Zucchinis into 1/2” rounds.
· Brush each with Balsamic Vinegar and season with Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper.
· Lay them flat on a greased grilling rack.
· Grill them quickly over direct flame.
· Remove when lightly charred.
· Cover half of the rounds and keep them warm for serving.
· Reheat them if necessary.
· Refrigerate remaining half of rounds until cooled through and use in Zucchini Canapes.
· Slice a few chilled, pimento-stuffed Spanish Olives into thin rounds.
· Spread a thin layer of cream cheese onto each grilled and chilled zucchini round.
· Top each with a smattering of pimento-stuffed green olive slices.
· Serve cold.
Zucchini En Mini Brochette
- 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 T Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Garlic Paste
· Spear 4” long wooden brochettes each with one:
- 1/2”-thick Zucchini round
- 1” Red Pepper chunk
- Small Button Mushroom
· Brush brochettes lightly with olive oil mixture and grill over direct flame until just softened and lightly charred.
· Serve hot.
· Chop a few green olives.
· Mix them into 1 C of Feta Cheese.
· Peel green skin from 2 Zucchinis.
· Remove tops and bottoms and halve them lengthwise.
· Hollowed out each half into a canoe shape.
· Stuffed each half with feta cheese mixture.
· Place onto grilling rack and grill over direct flame until zucchini is lightly charred and cheese is melted.
· Remove from grill.
· Let rest for 5 minutes.
· Cut each “canoe” into 4 horizontal slices and serve them warm.
If you can stand the heat in your kitchen, add one more dish to your Tapas:
- 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp Garlic Paste
· Remove tops and bottoms from 2 Zucchinis.
· Use your vegetable peeler to shave each zucchini into long, very thin strips.
· Brush lightly with emulsified mixture and season with sea salt.
· Bake in preheated 425˚ oven about 10 minutes, until strips are crisp like chips.
· Serve hot.
Or make a healthy, veggie, Zucchini Cannelloni.
If you plan to make a multi-dish meal, get yourself organized first for quick cooking, and enjoy our easy Green Grill with family and friends.
Featured Image Courtesy of Idea go / Free Digital Photos