My visit to Barcelona last year was more than a holiday to a new destination, it was an endeavour to rediscover self by connecting with the unknown and getting acquainted with the unfamiliar.
And my tryst with its culinary delights continues to inspire my cooking every now and then. The famous Spanish tapas had caught my fancy like nothing else, and I had found the bite sized appetizers that go so distinctively with the drinks to be quite intriguing, given the huge variety one gets to see in their preparations: the textures, the tastes and the flavours.
Tapas are bite sized appetizers or snacks that are best had in between meals, typically with a refreshing drink of Sangria. Tapas could be something as simple as pickled olives & nuts and crisps or elaborated like croquetas and the sumptuous salads or it can be something gourmet like battered fish with seaweed or a sardine with cheese on melon or Smoked pepper prawns.
You have these vibrant Tapas bars all over the city and it is an absolute delight to go bar hopping to enjoy glasses of wine and get your picks from the most delectable arrays of tapas.
And ever since I encountered these yummy petite titbits of delicacies, I don’t leave a single opportunity to make my own versions of this culinary wonder.
I bring you today, tapas that’s inspired by the most loved Italian food around the world… the pizza!
I call my tapas …The Toastizzaz!
To get going, we need….
For the toastizza –
10-15 slices of Whole Wheat bread
2-3 cups Long fine slices of veggies (bell peppers/onions/ babycorn)
1 tbsp olive oil
10-15 black olives, sliced
Salt for seasoning
200g Mozarella Cheese, grated
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
For the Arrabbiata sauce –
6-7 medium sized Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped Onion
2 tsp finely chopped Garlic
2 tbsp Olive oil
5-6 leaves of fresh Basil
½ tsp dried Oregano
Salt for seasoning
½ tsp red chilli flakes (if you would like your sauce hot, increase the measure to 1- 1.5 tsp)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
We start with marinating the veggies.
Take a large bowl, add olive oil, basil, oregano and salt and whisk well. Toss all the veggies and olives in, mix well and leave for 30 minutes to marinate.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil and add the chopped garlic and onion. Once the garlic and onion is brown, add the finely chopped tomatoes and keep stirring till the tomatoes are cooked tender and the mixture has a pulpy mashed look. Add basil, oregano, salt and chilli flakes and mix well. Add tomato ketchup and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Allow to cool. The Arrabbiata sauce is ready.
Pre heat the oven at 175 deg Celsius. Drizzle little bit of olive oil on the bread slices and toast them in the oven for about 3-4 minutes. On the toasted slice, apply a coating of the sauce; top it liberally with your choice of marinated veggies. Finish it with a layer of mozzarella. Back to the oven for about 6-8 minutes till the mozzarella is melted and shows a hint of golden brown. Your Toastizzaz are ready!
While making your Arrabbiata sauce, you may want to use your onions grated and tomato puree in place of the chopped tomatoes if you like a super smooth consistency to your sauce. However, I personally prefer to use onions and tomatoes chopped, because I find the semi mashed texture of the final sauce very alluring and in each spoonful of the sauce your taste buds can actually discover the essence of every individual ingredient.
As I share my pizza – inspired tapas with you, my mind has already worked on another inspired version of tapas – one that’s inspired by the quintessential Indian street food… droooool…. droool!
And while I get busy planning out the next signature tapas, I am sure all of you, my amazing readers already have their minds racing with plentiful ideas to concoct your own creative tapas.
Here’s to Happy hours! And a toast to all the upcoming high teas, cocktail parties and fellowship events that you plan to host!
See you all soon… Adios!!!