Last month, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, I made a tapas spread fit for a king…or in this case, my husband. One of our early dating rituals was frequenting restaurants that served sangria and tapas. Nothing is better than sitting outside at a cafe in the summer, sipping sangria and grazing on tapas. Nothing. Except if your dog is haunting you for a nibble…but I digress.
Are these recipes completely guiltless? Well, not really. But, wherever I could, I used lower calorie options, like substituting turkey bacon for regular bacon. You get my drift. But you’ll also see no bread or wheat, so these are all gluten-free.
The great thing about these recipes too is that I made everything in just over an hour. Plus, if you’re entertaining friends and family, you can keep the dishes coming as you finish. So, to start this meal, I started with something easy– a caprese salad.
- 1 or 2 beefsteak tomatoes
- buffalo mozzarella
- fresh basil
- extra-virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and arrange on a serving plate. Cut similar-sized slices of the buffalo mozzarella and place them on top of the tomato slices. Next, chop up the fresh basil and sprinkle over the tomatoes and cheese. Lightly drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad and serve.
Next, I served up these walnut, dried cranberry & date balls. I know the picture above looks like raw meatballs, but I’m telling you, these are soooo delicious that you’ll want to devour the plate. Also, these are a good snacking option if you’ve been working out as they also have protein powder.
Walnut Cranberry Date Balls
Adapted from the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup pitted whole dates
- ¾ cup walnuts (unsalted)
- 1 scoop of protein powder (optional)
Place walnuts in a food processor and chop until the nuts are finely ground. Remove nuts into a bowl. Next, place the remaining ingredients (dried cranberries, dates and protein powder) into the food processor and mix until a paste forms. In the bowl, combine the cranberry-date paste with the chopped walnuts. Place bowl in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill. Once the mixture is chilled, roll the paste into 1-inch snack balls and serve. These can also be made ahead.
Keep those dates handy, as you’ll be using them for this traditional Spanish tapas recipe, Turkey Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chorizo. Yum….
Turkey Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Chorizo
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine
- 1 small Spanish chorizo sausage (about 2 ounces), casing removed
- dates, pitted
- 12 slices of turkey bacon, halved crosswise
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Slice chorizo into small, matchstick-sized pieces. Tuck each chorizo stick into a date and pinch the date shut. Wrap a turkey bacon strip around the date and secure with a toothpick. Next, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Place the wrapped dates in the pan and sauté for about 10 minutes or until all sides of the turkey bacon have thoroughly cooked. Serve immediately.
Spicy Garlic Shrimp
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 canned chipotle chile pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
- Sea Salt
In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic, chile pepper and parsley and saute for about 30 seconds. Next, add the shrimp and adobo sauce. If you prefer more heat, add more adobo sauce. Sauté until the shrimp turn pink and curl. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
And where would a tapas meal be without sangria? You can make this recipe the night before since it will need to chill for at least 4 hours. Traditional sangria recipes call for wine and liquor, but to cut the calories a bit, this recipe also uses seltzer, which gives it some fizz.
Adapted from Tropical Sangria recipe in Cosmopolitan magazine
- 1 (750-ml) bottle full-bodied red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
- 1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
- 1 orange (unpeeled), thinly sliced
- 1 cup strawberries, chopped
- 1 (8-oz) can pineapple chunks packed in 100% juice, with juice
- 2 cups naturally flavored lime or lemon-lime seltzer or club soda
Combine all of the ingredients (except the seltzer) in a large pitcher and stir. Chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight) in a refrigerator. Before serving, add chilled seltzer to the pitcher and stir.