Small Plates, Big Tastes

Channel Spain's exuberant spirit by whipping up creative, robustly flavored tapas ideal for sharing and entertaining.


Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed With Chorizo
Executive chef Jamie Samford of Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas, combines Spain's favorite sausage with sweet dates for a warm, crowd-pleasing tapas bite. Samford recommends using Medjool dates, which he calls the "king of dates."

18 dates, pitted
1 pound cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 18 1-inch by 1/4-inch pieces
6 slices bacon, cut into thirds
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup toasted Marcona almonds, roughly cut

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment. Slit each date and stuff each with one sausage piece. Wrap each date with a bacon strip and secure with a toothpick. Place the dates on the prepared sheet tray.

Roast in the oven until the bacon on top starts to crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the dates over and repeat the process. Remove the dates from the oven and brush both sides with maple syrup. Return the dates to the oven until the dates are crackly and sticky, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with Marcona almonds.

Yield: 6 servings

Chef Tip: "For an extra kick, drizzle a little balsamic syrup and cracked black pepper over the finished dates at serving time."

Catalan Shrimp With Orange Zest and Feta on Crostini
In Spain's tapas bars, diners frequently are spotted with slices of bread perched atop their wine glasses. Executive chef Shannon Rivera of the Club at Key Center in Cleveland takes plain crostini to new heights with his simple yet sublime recipe for savory shrimp, which should be served warm.

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 garlic cloves, whole
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 French baguette, sliced and toasted for crostini

Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in the lemon juice, paprika, orange zest, and coriander, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and crumbled feta cheese and serve on top of French bread crostini.

Yield: 6 servings

Chef Tip: "For a party shortcut, buy peeled and deveined shrimp. Also, when using frozen shrimp, thaw it before you put it in a pan to cook."

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