Two years ago, Spain’s tourism agency Turespaña declared the third Thursday of every June as World Tapas Day. We are sure anyone would agree that tapas deserve their own day of celebration (we definitely do), especially those of you who have had a taste of them either in Spain itself or in your own or other countries.
We feel proud that tapas have become the trademark of Spanish gastronomy and are happy to join the celebrations of World Tapas Day putting together a list of 10 classic summer tapas you absolutely must try at least once in your life. Recipes included, so there is no excuse for you not to make these summer tapas at home. Here they come.
1. Tortilla de patata, Spanish omelette
Spanish omelette is an omelette made with potatoes, eggs, salt, olive oil, and onions, being the last completely optional. It can be served hot or at room temperature. A classic Spanish tapa not to be missed and one of the most famous recipes of our country. There is not a single corner of Spain where this simple but perfect and luscious recipe is not prepared. With or without onion, thoroughly set or juicy inside, make it to your taste and enjoy this popular bite.
Link to recipe | Spanish omelette, tortilla de patata
2. Ensalada campera, country salad
Ensalada campera or country salad is a wildly popular dish or tapa in the warmer months. Potato being its basic ingredient, it is usually garnished with varied vegetables. The most common ingredients are tomato, green and red pepper, spring onion, boiled egg and canned albacore/longfin tuna (bonito del norte), but other interesting goodies can be added too, like olives, prawns, peas, corn, depending on the region and personal taste. Always dressed with a colorful vinaigrette with olive oil and wine vinegar.
Link to recipe | Country salad, ensalada campera
3. Calamares a la romana, fried squid rings
Calamares a la romana, literally meaning squid rings Roman style, are an ubiquitous tapa that’s prepared by cutting the squid or calamari body in rings, dipping the rings in frying batter or plain flour, and deep-frying them in olive oil until crisp. One of the most beloved tapas in Spain that can be found all around the Mediterranean Sea. However, it is immensely popular too in the northernmost fishing regions and even Madrid, where it is served in bread rolls (bocadillo de calamares).
Link to recipe | Calamares a la romana, fried squid rings
4. Boquerones fritos, Spanish fried anchovies
Fried anchovies or boquerones fritos is a simple and extremely popular tapa in Spain. You only need to coat fresh anchovies with flour and deep-fry them in olive oil. Definitely a very tasty tapa with a crispy surface and a warm, steamy and delicate mouthwatering interior. Fried anchovies from Málaga or the ones from the ancient city of Cádiz are very well-known, but nearly as much are those served in Granada, in Cantabria or even in Madrid. In other words, there is hardly any area in Spain where you can’t enjoy this fishy tapa… A favorite one among our summer tapas.
Link to recipe | Boquerones fritos, Spanish fried anchovies
5. Papas aliñás, potato salad
Papas aliñás or potato salad is a traditional tapa all over Andalucia, although it is in Cadiz where it is most popular. New potatoes, boiled to perfection and dressed with tender spring onion, fresh parsley and a very basic dressing of olive oil, sherry vinegar and sea salt. Simplicity at its best. Glorious in the spring and summer seasons when the heat makes us crave cold meals and the perfect accompaniment of a beer. Bartenders know it well as they usually serve a small portion of it, free of charge, when ordering a drink.
Link to recipe | Papas aliñás, potato salad
6. Gazpacho, Spanish cold soup of tomato
Gazpacho is a Spanish cold soup of tomato and vegetables made with a perfect blend of fresh tomatoes, Italian frying pepper, garlic, vinegar, bread and olive oil. In most recipes, stale bread is used to thicken it, but this can be skipped for a lighter gazpacho. This simple and perfect summer soup is prepared in most Spanish households, implying so many variations that it is almost impossible to identify an authentic gazpacho. Our version is served in small glasses as a tapa.
Link to recipe | Gazpacho, Spanish cold soup of tomato
7. Huevos rellenos, stuffed eggs
Huevos rellenos or stuffed eggs are one of the most traditional tapas around. Boiled eggs are cut in half, then yolks are removed and mixed with tuna preserve and mayonnaise. They’re refilled with this mixture, garnished to taste and served. The best quality ingredients are key in this simple recipe: free range eggs, a good canned tuna and a good quality or homemade mayonnaise, if possible, will turn this dish from a good tapa into a superb tapa.
Link to recipe | Huevos rellenos, stuffed eggs
8. Gambas al ajillo, garlic shrimp
Gambas al ajillo o garlic shrimp are shelled shrimp cooked in olive oil and plenty of finely diced garlic, a truly ubiquitous tapa all over Spain and a traditional crowd-pleaser with a sauce that calls for lots of bread-dunking.
The name gambas al ajillo literally means shrimp with little garlic, referring to the finely chopped garlic used to season this tapa. Those afraid of the fierceness of garlic, do not fret: the flavor is largely tamed when fried and subsequently stewed in the wine. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.
Link to recipe | Gambas al ajillo, garlic shrimp
9. Salpicón de marisco, seafood salad
Salpicón de marisco or seafood salad is a very fresh tapa made with seafood such as octopus, mussels and prawns accompanied by vegetables of our choice. We like to use green and red peppers, tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers, but monkfish and spider crab are widely used too. All of it seasoned with a classic vinaigrette. It is a perfect tapa for the hot season because it is light and cool, and can be prepared in advance. In fact, we recommend that you do so for the flavors to mature and intensify.
Link to recipe | Salpicón de marisco, seafood salad
10. Ensaladilla rusa, potato salad Spanish style
Ensaladilla rusa or potato salad Spanish style is a true staple at any tapas bar or taberna, all over Spain and especially in the warmer areas of the South and Mediterranean coast. This tapa’s name means literally little Russian salad and although it seems to derive from the famous Olivier salad, truly born in Russia, the way it ended up being one of the most beloved recipes of Spanish traditional cuisine is quite unknown. Because like any potato salad, ensaladilla rusa is eaten cold, it’s a staple at picnics as well as family celebrations, as it can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge. Quite an advantage in the warm Spanish summers… Definitely a must for our list of summer tapas !
Link to recipe | Ensaladilla rusa, potato salad Spanish style