Some friends came over for lunch last week, the latest installment in my Sunday Lunch series. This time it was tapas. The whole kit and kaboodle: small plates of this and that, paella, a few desserts of course, and plenty of icy wine. After a few of these lunches where I’ve completely overdone it, I promised I would take it easy. I meant to, I really did. But I did not. There were far too many things I wanted to make. Maybe another time I’ll bring it down a notch. Ha.
Tapas is one of my favorite classes to teach. It’s fun, we can get a lot accomplished during class time and it’s an extremely social type of food. It’s also one of my favorite things to eat – the whole idea of small plates works extremely well with my indecisive nature. With smaller portions I can just order everything that strikes my fancy. There’s also something inherently friendly in tapas – they’re meant to be shared. If that’s not the makings of a party, well then, I don’t know what is.
Sunday Lunch – Spanish edition:
- Pan con Tomate with Jamon (bread with tomato & Spanish ham)
- Croquetas de Jamon (ham & potato puffs) with Saffron Aioli
- Patatas Aioli (potatoes in garlic mayonnaise)
- Champinones al Ajillo (garlic marinated mushrooms)
- Tortilla de Chorizo & Queso (potato omelet with chorizo & manchego)
- Ensalada con Bonito del Norte (salad with tuna)
- Paella Mixta (paella with chicken, sausage & shellfish)
- Mini Almond Cakes with Spiced Chocolate Sauce
- Mini Classic Flan
- Various popsicles (strawberry hibiscus, blueberry cream, avocado lime)
Dialing it down a notch, can’t you tell? In fairness, friends brought the Pan con Tomate and the salad, and I had made the popsicles over the previous few weeks and threw those into the mix at the last moment because it was so hot. And again, for the sake of honesty, the dishes really weren’t all that difficult. Nearly everything was made ahead and the real secret of any successful dinner party is to throw in a couple really simple but impressive options to round the menu and fill the table. Like Patatas Aioli – the super garlicky potato salad on every tapas menu. It’s incredibly easy, filling, cheap and is always a crowd pleaser. If you need a quick dish this summer, make it this one.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: EXCELLENT. There are a few reasons for this. One, this recipe doesn’t heat up the kitchen. At this time of the year, when you’re melting into a puddle, it’s an extremely important consideration. Second, it’s easy. Boil potatoes, mix with garlic and mayonnaise, maybe some parsley. Chill. That’s it. Third, people love this stuff. Leftovers will be a mere memory.
PATATAS AIOLI (Potatoes in Garlic Mayonnaise)
1 ½ pounds small red potatoes, halved if large
1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s really is the best)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
5-6 garlic cloves, very finely minced or put through a garlic press
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
kosher salt to taste
- Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water to cover.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Cool potatoes until they are easy enough to handle then cut the potatoes into ¾” chunks (you can peel or leave the skin on.) (Let potatoes cool completely before adding to the mayonnaise.)
- 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 additional fresh lemon juice if necessary.
- Gently fold in the cooled potatoes, season with salt, and let sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
- Can be made up to two days ahead and kept refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.