Four quick tapas recipes for easy entertaining

Get a taste for tapas with these summer starters, which are all made for sharing

13 February 2020 - 08:37
By Georgia East
Loosely translated, tapas means “to cover”

There are several tales of how tapas began in Spain, but one of the most frequently cited is the version that suggests tapas began when late-afternoon bar patrons used small “coasters” of bread — which soon began to be topped with something tasty — to protect their tipple from thirsty flies.

Loosely translated, tapas means “to cover” and soon these small “coasters” became plates of light bites, such as grilled chorizo or marinated olives. 

In the past decade or so, tapas has infiltrated the global cuisine scene, but of course this style of eating needn't be confined to restaurants. Ideal for eating in late summer’s lethargy, tapas are an enjoyably simple way to cater for friends.

Entertaining is made easy with these four simple recipes for Spanish-style tapas. Serve individually with drinks as a starter or group the dishes together as a light supper.

Clams in salsa verde.
Image: Georgia East Clams in salsa verde.


Serves: 2


1 shallot, finely sliced

30ml olive oil, for frying

250ml chicken stock

100ml dry white wine

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

Coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper

A big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

500g frozen Italian clams, defrosted


1. Place a lidded casserole over medium heat and sauté the shallot in the olive oil until translucent.

2. Deglaze the pot with the stock then reduce the liquid by half.

3. Add the wine and the crushed garlic, then scatter in half of the parsley and stir to combine. Season to taste, with minimal salt.

4. Once the sauce has reduced a bit further, add the clams (the natural liquor from the clams will loosen up the sauce).

5. Cover the dish with its lid and steam for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until all the clams have opened — being sure to discard any that haven’t.

6. Scatter the remaining parsley over the top of the dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve the clams immediately with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

Squid with green chilli and garlic.
Image: Georgia East Squid with green chilli and garlic.


Serves: 2


500g frozen baby squid, defrosted

3 fresh green cayenne chillies, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper


1. Rinse the squid with cold water and pat dry with kitchen towel.

2. Over medium heat, fry the sliced chillies and garlic in olive oil until the garlic is light golden in colour — do not brown.

3. Remove the chillies and garlic from the pan and increase the heat.

4. Toss the squid in a little olive oil and season.

5. Flash-fry the squid on high heat until curled and dark pink.

6. Toss the cooked squid in the chillies and garlic and serve with a simple aioli.

Grilled peppers.
Image: Georgia East. Grilled peppers.


Serves: 2


10 Padrón chillies or small sweet green peppers

Olive oil

Flaky sea salt


1. Heat a cast iron griddle pan.

2. Toss the peppers in the olive oil.

3. Grill them in the pan until blackened and blistered all over.

4. Season liberally with flaky sea salt.

5. Serve with green olives, marinated anchovy fillets and chilled white wine.

Dippy eggs with jamón Ibérico (Spanish ham).
Image: Georgia East Dippy eggs with jamón Ibérico (Spanish ham).


Serves: 2


2 extra-large organic eggs

4 slices of jamón Ibérico (Spanish ham)

2 slices of sourdough bread, lightly toasted

Extra virgin olive oil

Smoked paprika (optional)


1. Cook the eggs in boiling water for 5 minutes to ensure a runny yolk.

2. Remove from the water, slice off the tops and set into egg cups.

3. Cut the toast into fingers, drizzle with olive oil and wrap slices of jamón around each finger.

4. Sprinkle a little smoked paprika over the top of the eggs and serve immediately with the jamón fingers.