Tapas Party

I had the honor of catering a fabulous women's book club group, and the theme was Tapas Party. We had a menu filled with seasonal foods and a really great treat to end the night. I was able to share with them some ways to bring more nutrition in smaller portions and how to prepare foods without common ingredients such as dairy and gluten.

Having a party with a theme is the best way to keep it simple. If you start wavering from that theme, just re-focus and remember that less is more. I would have loved to make a couple of my favorite desserts but a treat at the end of a meal should be just that, "a treat," and adding in too many things complicates a simple, yet tasty ending.

For a tapas party, stick to 4 or 5 dishes and remember that each should be self contained. The soup goes into small bowls or martini glasses if it is a cold soup, the dip should be on top of the cracker or in this case, cucumbers. Each falafel wrap had it's own plate and the dessert could be picked up one at a time, no plates or forks required!

I will share with you the recipes for the night of tapas fun. You'll notice the ingredients were unexpected in some cases, pine nuts instead of chickpeas, mayo instead of yogurt and almond butter as the star in dessert. Changing up the ingredients allows you to make your food your own and show others your "point of view" in the kitchen. Oh, don't get me started....ok, here's the recipes.

Pine Nut Hummus

1 cup pine nuts, soaked overnight and rinsed and drained
2 TB lemon
2 TB tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Whirl the nuts around in your food processor scraping the sides as needed. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve on slices of cucumber and top with small diced red pepper or carrot for garnish.

Falafel in Lettuce Wraps with Lemon Herb Mayo
(from Feeding the Whole Family With Whole Foods)

3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked 10-12 hours and drained
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped
coconut oil for frying
bib lettuce for wraps
Lemon Herb Mayo (recipe follows)

Place chickpeas in food processor. Process until broken into small pieces, scraping sides as necessary. Add lemon juice and continue blending until very finely ground, but not paste.

In a medium skillet over medium heat add olive oil. Add onion, salt, garlic, coriander and cumin and saute for 7-10 minutes. Set aside.

Combine ground chickpeas, onion mixture, pepper, baking soda, hot sauce and parsely in a separate bowl, mix well. Use your hands to form balls. Heat 2-3 TB coconut oil in a frying pan until hot but not smoking. Place hald of the patties in oil. They should sizzle and brown quickly. Turn over adding more oil as needed. If the patties fall apart the oil is not hot enough. Remove and place on paper towels until patties are all cooked.

Serve on lettuce leaves and top with mayo sauce.

Lemon Herb Mayo

1 cup grapeseed oil veganaisse
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
2 TB parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and chill until falafel is ready.

Raw Spicy Corn Chowder with Corn Salsa
(adapted from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen)

3 ears of sweet corn
3/4 cup walnuts soaked for 30 minutes and drained
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1-2 tsp of chopped spicy red pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups water

Set aside one cup of corn to use for salsa. Blend remaining corn, walnuts, oil, garlic, salt and water until smooth. Pour into 4 bowls and top with corn salsa. Chowder base will keep in the fridge for two days.

Corn Salsa

1 cup corn kernels
1 avocado, diced
1/3 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 lime juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 TB spicy red pepper
1 ripe tomato, diced

Combine ingredients and let sit in fridge for about an hour.

Freezer Fudge
(adapted from RAW FOOD real world)

1 jar almond butter
1/4 cup raw cacao or carob
1/2 cup plus 2 TB agave or maple syrup
1 heaping tsp coconut butter (or oil)
1 TB vanilla
1 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted with 1 tsp coconut oil
goji berries

In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well. Spoon mixture into a square baking pan lined with parchment or plastic. Place the fudge into pan and press down firmly to flatten. Place in freezer to chill for an hour, remove, flip out of pan and cut into small one inch pieces. Place pieces on parchment paper and drizzle with melted chocolate and top with a goji berry. Place back into freezer before serving. Store covered in freezer if you don't eat them all at the party!

This recipes are simple and many of the steps can be done the day before the party. The freezer fudge can be made days ahead and the falafel can be reheated just before serving. Involve your guests in the party and put them to work chopping or plating. We served the tapas with a wonderful virgin sangria using chopped fruit, pomegranate juice and kombucha. Replace the kombucha with wine for a kick!