Spanish Tapas Board

By Ann Fulton

Elevate your charcuterie game with this epic Spanish tapas board, which comes together easily, looks stunning, and is loaded with savory bites. Perfect for any occasion, from New Year’s celebrations and game days to girls’ nights and book clubs. Optional extras will make it a meal.
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Elevate your charcuterie game with this epic Spanish tapas board, which comes together easily, looks stunning, and is loaded with savory bites. Perfect for any occasion, from New Year’s celebrations and game days to girls’ nights and book clubs. Optional extras will make it a meal.

 

Charcuterie boards are popular for good reason. They contain all sorts of tasty bites, are easy to assemble, and allow for endless variety. Perfect for casual entertaining and fancier parties alike, those who are inclined can even make a veritable art project out of them.

Essentially, charcuterie boards are adult finger food at its best!

Selecting a theme for a charcuterie board will lend an added layer of interest. It will also provide a helpful focus when choosing among the endless choices of cheeses, meats, crackers, nuts, etc.

The following Spanish-themed board is a real showstopper. It’s also easy to create and can be enhanced with heartier, make-ahead fare to make it meal-worthy.

Elevate your charcuterie game with this epic Spanish tapas board, which comes together easily, looks stunning, and is loaded with savory bites. Perfect for any occasion, from New Year’s celebrations and game days to girls’ nights and book clubs. Optional extras will make it a meal.

The components:

While all the ingredients are lovely additions to a tapas board, you may use the list as a guide, substituting as noted or editing based on what you have on hand or think will be a tasty addition to your board.

Spanish Tortilla:

Celebrated as a national dish in Spain and an essential part of Spanish cuisine, a Spanish tortilla (aka tortilla Española or tortilla de patata/potato omelet) is unlike the flat Mexican corn or flour tortilla. The Spanish counterpart, rather, is a thick omelet made with eggs, potatoes, and onion.

The simple, humble fare is enjoyed as a snack or light meal and is frequently served at room temperature, as a tapa, in restaurants, bars, and at home. When I lived in Spain, my almost daily lunch was a bocadillo de tortilla, a classic offering served all over Spain. Essentially a sandwich, it consists of a fresh baguette stuffed with one or two thick wedges of tortilla, a sprinkle of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.

The tortilla offers a fabulous make-ahead addition to a charcuterie board and can be cut into bite-size squares and served with a toothpick. If desired, thread a slice of chorizo or other meat – even a cherry tomato or olive – onto the toothpick before the tortilla. For a more filling serving, slice the tortilla into wedges. 

Make this traditional Spanish dish in your own kitchen with a few basic ingredients and enjoy it as a light meal, a satisfying snack, or a filling addition to a Spanish-themed charcuterie board.

Here, the Spanish tortilla is shown as the centerpiece of a light meal. It can also be cut into bite-size squares and added to a Spanish-themed tapas board. Delicious dipping sauce options include smoked paprika aioli and Italian salsa verde.

The meat:

Jamón Serrano is classic Spanish ham. It’s made from a hind pork leg cut and its signature flavor comes from a slow aging process and the addition of sea salt. As a comparison, the ham is drier in texture than prosciutto and has a bolder flavor because it is aged longer.

Those who prefer a milder flavor may prefer to substitute prosciutto or another meat of choice. It need not come from Spain to taste fabulous on a tapas board!  

Spanish chorizo is another traditional option. The dry-cured sausage is usually made from pork or beef, and its firm, dry texture is popular among charcuterie lovers. Spanish chorizo doesn’t require cooking before eating, but if you’re seeking a crispy, crunchy exterior, pan frying will achieve that.

Mexican chorizo, on the other hand, is typically made with finely ground pork and sold raw, whether in bulk or casings. Delicious in its own right, when cooked, Mexican chorizo’s crumbled nature doesn’t lend well to a charcuterie board. 

Spanish chorizo is made with garlic and pimentón, a Spanish smoked paprika, which gives the chorizo its brick-red color and smoky flavor. (As a comparison, Mexican chorizo is typically seasoned with chile peppers, spices, and vinegar. There are hot and sweet varieties of both.)

The cheese:

The most popular of Spanish cheeses, Manchego is sharp, but not overwhelmingly so, and is known for its creamy, nutty, and salty flavor notes. The texture of the cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk, is firm and slightly crumbly.

Fun fact: Wheels of Manchego can be identified by their rinds, which have a zigzag or herringbone pattern from the traditional grass baskets the cheese was shaped in. Though the molds are now typically made from a different material, the distinctive pattern has been retained.

Other popular Spanish cheeses include Mahón (sweet and fruity), Cabrales (blue cheese), Idiazabal (slightly piquant), and Tetilla (a touch salty and sour). But if you decide to place a wedge of brie, Gruyere, or smoked Gouda on your tapas board, rest assured that fusion of cultures is absolutely acceptable!

Olives:

Tangy and nutty with a smooth texture, Manzanilla olives represent what most people think of as Spanish olives – to the point that they are often referred to as Spanish olives. Conveniently, they are available at most grocery stores.

Feel free, however, to use your favorite olives on the tapas board, whether black or green, pitted or not – or use a mix. For something a little extra, take a few minutes to marinate the olives. I love Spanish-Style Marinated Olives, which make a great pre-dinner nibble.

For a thoughtful host gift, place the marinated olives in a jar, add a label, and tie with a pretty bow. They feel like something you’d buy at a specialty market and are especially perfect for those who prefer savory snacks over sweet ones.

Nuts:

Marcona almonds are flatter and rounder than the typical California almond and offer a lovely buttery flavor. A product of Spain and often called the “queen of almonds,” Marcona almonds are blanched and then roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. 

Optionally (or in addition to), you could serve Spanish peanuts, pistachios, or even roasted chestnuts.

Fruit:

Oranges, grapes, and figs fit the Spanish theme quite well, and fruit, in general, offers a light, bright note to any charcuterie board. Blood oranges are very Spanish, but so are more traditional varieties like Valencias. Kiwi, persimmon, pear, apricot, and mango complement the theme as well, but again, use what you and your guests will enjoy, whether dried or fresh.

The final details and optional extras:

Your choice of crackers will round out the board. Garlic-infused crostini are one great option. Store-bought options are available, but crostini can be prepared quickly and easily, and well in advance for added convenience.

Rosemary-infused crackers are also lovely on a Spanish tapas board, but choose what you enjoy. Keep in mind that good gluten-free alternatives are available for those who need them.

If you’re a fan of pickled peppers, Spanish common varieties include Guindillas and Piparras. Both are slender peppers, and though they have a kick, are fairly mild. Both varieties are from the Basque region of Spain and are often compared to banana peppers in both heat and flavor. If you can’t find them, feel free to use pepperoncini or another pickled vegetable of choice.

Fig jam and honey (traditional or hot honey) are nice extras for those who enjoy layering savory and sweet ingredients.

For more oomph and to further take the board from appetizer to dinner status, consider adding shrimp. Simply steamed shrimp will rise to a new level and mesh with the Spanish theme when served with this easy smoked paprika aioli

What to drink?

For the perfect specialty cocktail to serve with your tapas board, opt for a pitcher of sangria. The flavor of sangria improves over time, so aim to prepare it the day before – truly a built-in convenience when entertaining. A few worthy options include:

  Elevate your charcuterie game with this epic Spanish tapas board, which comes together easily, looks stunning, and is loaded with savory bites. Perfect for any occasion, from New Year’s celebrations and game days to girls’ nights and book clubs. Optional extras will make it a meal.

If you try this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Spanish Tapas Board
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: As much as needed
The following list provides a framework for a balanced charcuterie board with a Spanish theme, but feel free to make additions, subtractions, or substitutions as desired. The addition of the Spanish tortilla supplies a filling component, perfect if you’d like the board to serve as a meal. Optional variations and additions are included in the recipe notes.
Ingredients:
  • Spanish Tortilla
  • Manchego cheese
  • Spanish chorizo (or another smoked sausage of preference)
  • Jamón Serrano (could substitute prosciutto)
  • Marcona almonds (and/or Spanish peanuts, pistachios, and roasted chestnuts)
  • Green and/or black olives (green manzanillas are a typical Spanish olive, but use what you enjoy – Spanish-Style Marinated Olives are delicious too)
  • Grapes, sliced oranges, and/or figs
  • Crackers or crostini
  • Optional extras: Fig jam or hot honey, hot peppers, and/or pickled vegetables
Instructions:

Distribute the items over a wooden or slate board or large platter of choice. Use small bowls for the nuts, olives, and other small items.

To make it more of a meal:

Steamed shrimp adds even more fill factor and meshes with the Spanish theme when quick and easy Smoked Paprika Aioli is served alongside as a dipping sauce.

• The Spanish tortilla is a traditional addition, which offers a filling component and can be made up to several days in advance. Optionally, you could add quartered or halved hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, or red beet eggs.

• When using the Spanish tortilla, it is traditional to cut it into bite-size cubes and stick a toothpick in them. If desired, thread a slice of chorizo or other meat – even a cherry tomato or olive – onto the toothpick before the tortilla. Alternatively, for heartier servings, you could cut the tortilla into wedges.

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Elevate your charcuterie game with this epic Spanish tapas board, which comes together easily, looks stunning, and is loaded with savory bites. Perfect for any occasion, from New Year’s celebrations and game days to girls’ nights and book clubs. Optional extras will make it a meal.

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