Tapas at Home

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We’ve nearly run out of produce and perishables, but it’s cold and snowy outside and no one feels like shopping for food. We could order take out but fear the delivery person might slip and fall on our front walk. The pantry and freezer are well-stocked but at first glance, canned soup or a frozen chicken pot pie seems boring. Enter the creative husband.

In the last several years, the Spanish tradition of many different small plates, or tapas, eaten as an entire meal, has spread worldwide. Long before tapas was a “thing” in our US region, my husband was a devotee of appetizers. Meeting his family for the first time at a holiday dinner helped me understand and share the love. Danish meatballs, pigs in a blanket, crab Rangoon, and various cheeses, crackers, chips and dips; hot and cold appetizers were consumed one after the other like a chain smoker puffing his cigarettes. No one was hungry by the time dinner was served.

Based on our freezer and pantry finds, our tapas menu consists of shrimp cocktail, hummus, and chicken quesadilla. Shrimp cocktail is the easiest. We lightly cook the defrosted raw shrimp in a little salt water, place in a glass with cocktail sauce and a bit of lettuce, and chill.

The hummus is made in the food processor. The three must-have ingredients are chick peas, tahini and cumin. We also add parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and combine with water until desired consistency is reached. Jarred olives and red peppers from the pantry are complementary add-ons.

The news was all a-twitter last week over the blizzard trouncing the Northeast and as a result the bread aisles were emptied. I bought the whole wheat pita bread and small soft four tacos over a month ago and put them in the freezer. We use bread products infrequently so the freezer is a great place to keep bagels, wraps, pitas, and various breads. The pitas went from freezer to microwave, no defrosting necessary.

The chicken and shredded Mexican cheese used in the quesadilla were also freezer-finds. Once the chicken is defrosted, we cut into pieces and cook with taco seasoning mix. We assemble the soft tacos, chicken and cheese on our indoor grill and cook with the lid closed.

Here’s a summary of our stockpiled ingredients:

Freezer: shrimp, chicken breast, pita, soft tacos, shredded Mexican cheese.

Pantry: cocktail sauce, Goya canned chick peas, tahini, jars of olives and red peppers, olive oil, and seasonings including cumin, salt, pepper, parsley, and taco seasoning mix.

Nice to have: sour cream, taco sauce or salsa, lemon juice, lettuce.

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