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Dinner party inspiration needed - tapas?

I'm having a few people over for dinner next weekend and I'm feeling a little uninspired when it comes to meal planning. There will be five of us, including one picky-ish eater and three low-carb-ish eaters. Obviously, I could do some type of meat-heavy main and then an optional potato/starch dish alongside, but for whatever reason that seems boring to me. Most of the tried-and-true dishes that I've served to this group involve pasta, which doesn't work so well now that several of them are LC. Grr.

Anyway, I was thinking a tapas spread might be a good way to please the various palates that will be present - any suggestions in that vein? It wouldn't have to be traditionally Spanish - just things that lend themselves to small plates/family style sharing. I'd love to make use of some nice springy ingredients (artichokes, rhubarb?) given that the weather is FINALLY improving! I also received Ad Hoc at Home for a Christmas present so I need to look through it and see if there's anything there I want to try. Any other great cookbooks, awesome recipes?

I know the CH community will inspire me - thanks in advance!!!!!!!

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  1. I have a lamb meatball that is really good if you want it

    6 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        8 oz gound lamb
        6 oz gound sirloin
        about 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
        about 1/2 cup of chpped cilantro stems only( i know it sounds weird but it is yummy)
        2 1/2 T spoons garlic oil
        2 T red wine vinager
        1 1/2 T spoons shiakkah
        2T Tahini paste
        1/8 cup chopped shallots
        3 Tbl panko bread crumbs
        ½ tsp oregano
        ½ tsp smoked paprika
        ½ tsp ground cumin
        1 egg
        4 Tbl black & white sesame seeds

        mix it all together like making a meatloaf then form small walnut sized meatballs bake at 350 until done skewer and grill.. serve with a yogart dipping sauce.. made with all those left over cilatron leaves and yogart mixed in a blender

        1. re: girloftheworld

          We're on the same wave length. Sunday I'm making small lamb burgers with pistachio/mint/parsley/thyme/lemon peel(instead of sumac) mixed in. I'm going to serve them on "buns" that are really chickpea/tahini/egg pancakes. I've made each part separately, now I'm curious to try them together. There will be a bitter greens salad and a tahini/yogurt sauce. Kind of your tapas idea.

          1. re: escondido123

            "buns" that are really chickpea/tahini/egg pancakes

            this sounds amazing!!

            1. re: girloftheworld

              Oh they are. The recipe is from Mark Bitman's new book...will see if I can find it online. Just looked and all I see is the ones using besan--chickpea flour. These use ground canned chiickpeas. Had to fiddle with the batter to make it work, but loved it. Ate the extras heated and then spread with tahini yogurt. Too good.

          2. re: girloftheworld

            These sound terrific - thank you! One question - what is shiakkah?

      2. Poor you. Hate LC. I'm pretty sure a diet like that would kill me. ;)

        How about an artichoke frittata? You could season it well so that it would taste good at room temp, then serve cut into little squares. Roasted chickpeas are also tasty, as is socca. Both are great with sherry or red wine. They'd also be good with the lamb meatballs proposed by girloftheworld.

        Another, annoyingly fiddly but still delicious tapa-ish food is to take bite-size pieces of cooked chicken (roasted or poached), wrap them in large leaves of steamed spinach, skewer on a toothpick and dip in some sort of mayo-based currry dip, preferably one with a little spice. People love it.

        For a fantastic tapas cookbook, check out Penelope Casas' Tapas: The LIttle Dishes of Spain. Lots of yummy things in there, both simple and complex.

        1. Just tried this recipe a few days ago and it was really good. For folks who are watching calories it feels decadent but is not! Could substitute other fillings as well but this one was great!

          Skinny Spanakopita

          Nutritional Info: 86.1 calories, 1.1 g of fat, 15.7 g of carbohydrates, 1.3 of fiber, 3.5 g of protein

          Ingredients
          24 wonton wrappers
          10 oz of spinach (I used frozen but fresh would work)
          1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese
          2 garlic cloves, minced
          1/4 onion, chopped
          1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
          Salt and pepper to taste
          1 egg white, for egg wash
          1 tsp olive oil

          Instructions
          1.Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

          2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes. Once it becomes fragrant, add the spinach. Saute until just tender.

          3. Place the spinach mixture in a bowl and mix in the feta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

          4. Lay out the 24 wonton wrappers on two large cookie sheets sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Fill a small cup with warm water and place it near the cookie sheets.

          5. Begin assembling the spanakopita by placing a spoonful of the spinach and feta mixture in the center of the wonton wrapper. Wet the edges of the wonton wrapper with the warm water and fold over and press down to close. Once you have stuffed and sealed all the wonton wrappers, brush lightly with the egg wash or spray with cooking spray.

          6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Serve on their own or with marinara sauce for dipping.

          1. I always serve langostino's in garlic butter for tapas. Pretty colors, easy and fast. Chiffonade some basil on top for spring. Roasted asparagus goes nice with seafood -or cold asparagus with a tarragon dipping sauce is spring-y.

            1. I just saw a recipe for roasted artichokes, which are just coming into season, at least here in So Cal. Boil or steam first, cut in half and remove chokes, then roast with olive oil, herbs and garlic. They sounded heavenly.

              1. We had a bunch of pals over for a tapas night and here is what we served. We also had free flowing cava, wine and beer which added to the festivities.

                - Spanish tortilla - basically the Spanish version of a frittata. Fabulously, simple, beautifully presented - this is a dish every cook ought to master.

                -Albondigas - Spanish meatballs in an almond sauce - classic Spanish food, beyond belief delicious and one of those dishes which is even better when reheated the next day.

                -Cannellini bean and rosemary dip - I made this up taking Tuscan food as my inspiration.

                -Catalan spinach with golden raisins and pine nuts - Basically spinach which has been sauteed in olive oil, garlic and anchovies (which disappear and leave a magical taste behind)to which you add plumped raisins and toasted pine nuts.

                -Lamb empanadas - I made this up myself and gave the empanadas a very Indian flavor using turmeric, ginger and garlic.

                -Grilled Pork skewers - Pork tenderloin kebabs marinated in Middle Eastern type spices. Quite tasty and with a real bite to them.

                -Grilled Chicken bites - morsels of breast meat marinated in saffron and garlic. Served with spicy tomato jam made with ginger and Jersey tomatoes.

                -Pissaladiere - Classic French onion tart made with onions that have taken at least an hour to caramelize properly, anchobies and Nicoise olives as a garnish.

                -Shrimp sauteed with fennel and hot red chilies. Easy peasy but really delectable.

                -Mushrooms in a sherry sauce - Plain button mushrooms sliced and sauteed in butter and sherry. Finished with lemon juice and parsley.

                1 Reply
                1. re: potterstreet

                  Such great ideas here - thank you! I'm starting to feel inspired again :)

                2. i'm surprised no one suggested boquerones - you can serve them rolled on toothpicks (with or without an olive) to keep it low-carb.

                  - deviled eggs stuffed with tuna or shrimp and seasoned with smoked paprika
                  - stuffed piquillo peppers
                  - asparagus or melon wrapped in Serrano ham
                  - seared or grilled chorizo slices topped with manchego & mebrillo
                  - Cabrales-stuffed figs

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    GHG - great ideas. I'm going to make a menu and post it for critique soon!