Tapas-style dinners | TheUnion.com

Tapas-style dinners

Because of my frequent downsizing rampages, our kitchen drawers are orderly. There is, however, one drawer that escapes my cleaning frenzies.

My family snidely refers to it as the “DTD” which stands for “Dreaded Third Drawer.” It’s as out of place in my organized kitchen as an extra-terrestrial chewing Cheerios at my breakfast table.

The routine answer for, “Where’s the…?” is “Look in the DTD.” That’s where we find our overwhelming collection of never or rarely used devices.

Cries of, “I hate this drawer!” are frequent. The Toastite press, potato ricer, and donut-making ladle have long metal handles that refuse to lie flat. This makes it almost impossible to close the drawer. Worse yet, try opening it.

The tortilla press bought in Mexico, the animal cookie cutters the girls used one Christmas: each item in the DTD stew carries a story.

For example, there’s the square hard-boiled egg cuber last used 17 years ago. Devilled, smoked, caviared: that year all egg hors d’oeuvres were four-sided. My mother’s fondue forks, a 1950s veggie chopper, and the antique shishkabob skewers make it sharply dangerous to fish around inside. I have to be especially careful when I search for the turkey baster I use to siphon water out of overflowing houseplants.

My DTD is a jumble, but not these recipes. Give them a try.

Spanish Bean Salad

(4-6 servings)

In Spain, small savories called tapas are munched as a light supper. Shake up your habits! Invite friends for a tapas potluck. Of course, you can also enjoy this salad with any American dinner.

One 15-ounce can organic cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups (12 ounces) halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup halved black olives

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


Whisk together:

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Chill before serving. Sangria anyone?

Stuffed Eggplant Appetizers

(Serves 6-8)

In hot weather, I prefer nibbling munchies to gobbling heavy meals. Here’s another tapas possibility.

2 pounds of eggplant (the round kind), halved length-wise, and cut in 4-inch slices

Olive oil spray

4 ounces herbed chevre cheese

8 ounces feta

1 tablespoon lemon juice


1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon packed tablespoon minced fresh dill

2 cloves garlic, pressed

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the eggplant on the sheet, then spray the tops of the eggplant with oil. Bake for 20 minutes, turning once during baking, in a 375-degree oven until the eggplant is easily pierced with a fork.

In a food processor, whip the cheeses and lemon juice until smooth. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

When the eggplant cools enough to handle, place one-half tablespoon of cheese mixture on the edge of each eggplant piece, fold it over, and place in a large glass pan. Spoon the dressing on top, cover, and chill overnight. Turn the eggplant rolls over once while they marinate.

To serve, lift the rolls out of any remaining dressing and arrange on a platter. Warning: Tapas addiction may occur.

Fresh Herb Summer Tart

(Serves 6)

Serve this light dinner pie as another tapas or as the perfect companion to any salad.


1 1/2 cups white flour

1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter, cut in pieces

3 tablespoons ice water

Put everything in a food processor and whirl into a ball. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill the crust overnight. I zap the crust for 20 seconds in the microwave right before I make the pie. This way I don’t even have to roll out the crust, I just press it into the pan by hand. However you make the crust, fit it into a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Place a sheet of wax paper on the crust, fill it with beans (a great way to use outdated beans!), and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove the wax paper and beans and let the crust cool.


1 loosely packed cup grated Jarlsberg cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup evaporated milk

6 large scallions, cut in Os

1 packed tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 packed tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 packed tablespoon minced fresh marjoram

Salt and pepper

Spread the cheese on the bottom of the crust. Beat the eggs and milk together. Stir in the remaining ingredients and pour into the crust. Bake at 375 degrees for fifty minutes until the top is golden. Let the pie cool. For an elegant presentation, slide the pie out of the pan (it comes out easily) and serve on a platter.

I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the garlic press. I’d rather crush garlic cloves with my bare hands than search the DTD.


You can reach Ronnie Paul at rpaul@theunion.net.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User