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Special Spanish Tapas or Appetizers

By Jane Butel  March 11, 2019

We prepared for and  catered a night in Spain Birthday party with vegetarian Paella served with mussels, large shrimp and small clams.  For the salad I made a honey-lemon-mustard vinaigrette over baby greens, tossed with sugared almonds and red raspberries.  And the appetizers we made were a  Roasted Tomato and Bell Pepper Dip with Tuna, Potatoes with Garlic Aioli, Mushrooms with slivered, roasted garlic and Roasted Beets with Romesco Sauce.

Roasting tomatoes in a hot, 400F oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the skins are  blistered, slightly and lightly browned really enhances the flavor of the tomatoes.  We did this for the tomato appetizer.  Romas work best and to roast them just remove the stem and cut a deep 'X" on the bottom and place them on a foil lined baking sheet, stem side down.    I like to do this when I am already using the oven for baking, such as baking potatoes and just let the tomatoes stay in the oven after the potatoes are done.   You can leave them in the oven all night if you like,  and they will peel easier if you warm them again for about 10 minutes in a 300F oven.  For the appetizer, we combined the tomatoes, which we coarsely chopped with minced parsley, minced green bell and  canned tuna coarsely chopped.  These are great on a slice of toasted French bread as are the mushrooms.

For the Garlic Mushrooms, quarter baby portabellos mushrooms,   Then for a pound of mushrooms, sliver finely 5 garlic cloves and place them in about a 1/4 cup of olive oil in a skillet and saute until the mushrooms are cooked, using a medium low heat--about 5 minutes, adding  the garlic after about 2 minutes of cooking.  When done, add 1 more clover of garlic, finely minced, salt and freshly ground black pepper  and stir well.  They will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.  Serve with minced parsley.

We are off tomorrow, bright and early for Oaxaca and are planning another trip in June next year.  We hope you can join us next year!

Our next class in the April weekend--we look forward to cooking with you.

Here's the recipes for the Beets with Romesco  Sauce and the Potatos.


(Potatoes in Garlic Mayonnaise) 

This is a very popular tapa at bars in Spain, and is often served compliments of the house when you order a drink. 

Servings: 4-6 

¾ pound potatoes, preferably red waxy, cut into quarters

½ teaspoon salt or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon crystals

½ cup mayonnaise

3 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste or put through a garlic press

2 Tablespoons minced parsley 

  1. Bring salted or chicken bouillon flavored water to a boil. Add the potatoes, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until done.
  2. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and parsley. The mayonnaise should be a little thin to combine smoothly with the potatoes – dilute with a little vinegar or fresh lemon juice if necessary. 
  3. Fold in the potatoes gently, season with salt if desired to taste, and let sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving. Or make ahead and refrigerate, then return to room temperature.


TapasBeets are either loved or hated, and many people are in the latter camp. But I have won over dedicated beet haters by serving them this appetizer. You will be amazed at how terrific the roasted beets taste with this creamy, spicy, flavorful sauce. I sampled this dish first as a Spanish tapa, and I have been making it ever since. The sauce, by the way, can substitute for a remoulade sauce with seafood such as shrimp, crab, or crayfish, or with vegetables, such as steamed or boiled tiny new potatoes. When roasting, leave 3 inches of stem on the beets to prevent the juice from bleeding too much. 

Yield: Serves 6 

6 to 8 small fresh beets (about 1 bunch)

1 medium-size ripe tomato

2 large cloves garlic

5 blanched almonds

1 ½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

½ corn tortilla (6-inch), torn into chunks

1 Tablespoon pure ground mild red chile

Generous pinch of pequin quebrado

Salt and freshly ground pepper 

  1. Prepare the beets: Preheat the oven to 350F. Wash and dry the beets, and trim the stems to 3 inches long (you can discard the leaves or reserve them for another use). 
  1. Place the beets on a baking sheet and transfer them to the oven. Roast the beets until their skins move slightly when touched with a spoon, about 30 minutes for small beets (less then 2 inches in diameter), up to 60 minutes for larger beets. 
  1. While the beats are roasting, prepare the romesco sauce: Rinse the tomato, remove the core, and cut a very shallow X into the bottom (this will allow you to remove the tomato’s skin when it’s cooked). Place the tomato, stem end up, the garlic, and the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast in the oven along with the beets for about 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and almonds. Then continue to roast the tomato until it is soft, about 15 minutes more. Remove it from the oven. When the tomato and the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. 
  1. Let the beets cool until they’re still warm but not hot to the touch. Then peel them by tugging at the skin with a sharp paring knife- the skin and stems should slip off. Any stubborn portions will need to be peeled with a knife. Dice the beets into ¾ -inch cubes. 
  1. Pour 1/3 cup water, the vinegar, and the oil into a blender. Add the roasted tomato, garlic, and almonds, followed by the tortilla chunks, ground chile, pequin quebrado, and salt and black pepper to taste. Process until smooth. Then Tast, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Transfer the sauce to a small serving bowl. 
  1. Center the bowl of sauce on a serving platter and surround it with the diced beets. Provide toothpicks for piercing the beets and dipping them into the sauce.



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