Before they were cool, tapas were a bar food, something simple to keep customers drinking wine or beer. Today the definition has expanded to include anything that is bite-sized or a small plate with endless interpretations. Think of it as an entire category of foods with a Spanish designation for appetizers.
Below are two recipes for bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, a house party-friendly combination that pairs particularly well with any drink that has some body. To save time when the party starts, construct them in advance and refrigerate. Just before heating bring dates to room temperature, cook and serve.
Stuffed Medjool Dates with Piquillo Pepper Sauce
Adapted from chef Koren Grieveson of Avec in Chicago
8 slices of smoky bacon, cut in half lengthwise
16 medjool dates, pitted
8 tablespoon of uncooked chorizo
Piquillo sauce (recipe below)
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff dates with the uncooked chorizo, using 1/2 tablespoon of chorizo for each date. Wrap each date with a half-slice of bacon.
Place dates in oven for approximately 15 minutes or until chorizo is cooked through. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until bacon is crisp. Serve on warm plate in pool of piquillo sauce and garnish with chopped parsley. Makes 16 wrapped dates.
For the piquillo sauce:
8 ounces of Piquillo peppers (or any roasted peppers)
16 ounces whole, peeled tomato
6 tablespoons garlic, thinly sliced
8 whole peeled shallots, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
In a saucepan, sweat shallots and garlic. Add piquillo peppers and canned tomato with juice. Cook on low heat for about 1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.
Dátiles con Béicon (Dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeón, wrapped in bacon)
Adapted from Executive Chef Seamus Mullen of Boqueria in New York
8 Medjool dates
8 marcona almonds, toasted
8 teaspoons of Valdeon or Cabrales blue cheese
4 slices of bacon, cut in half lengthwise
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each date along one side. Remove the pit and replace it with a toasted marcona almond. Place a teaspoon of the cheese inside the date and close it. Wrap each date with half a slice of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown. Makes 8 wrapped dates.