Spanish Tapas

Sausage fest

Summer-ready Spanish tapas you can eat with your hands
Summer-ready Spanish tapas you can eat with your hands

Some of you may have memories long enough to recall an old Molson Canadian commercial, which cheekily proclaimed that Canada only has two seasons: winter and patio (cue shots of weak rays of sun and icicles melting; cut to smug youths drinking beer on a porch in shorts when it’s clearly still winter). While it’s sad to think of a beer commercial actually nailing Canadian culture, this one resonated with most of us. For those of you with shorter memories, you need only recall the jerkface of a winter that just passed to better appreciate the precious few days we have in this country to sit outside in a T-shirt. So go forth! Sit outside. Wear your T-shirt. And while you’re at it, you should get your hands dirty over a platter of garlicky shrimp and chorizo with people you like.

This recipe is inspired by a simple tapas dish I had in Madrid long ago, when I wasn’t yet too soft to backpack around Europe. We sat around a long table, al fresco, sharing plate after plate, eating with our hands, wearing tank tops and flip-flops. It was heavenly.

This meal is surprisingly quick and easy to make: it only requires a couple of ingredients and yet it delivers a huge payoff. Smoky and flavourful chorizo sausage is browned, then tossed with fresh summer tomatoes, garlic, white wine and shrimp. Lightly grilled bread is served alongside to mop up all the sauce at the bottom of the dish, which I guarantee will be wiped clean.

This would be a perfect way to kick off a summer dinner party — the whole thing only takes 10 to 15 minutes to prepare. If you don’t have a grill, just serve fresh bread or broil slices in the oven for less than a minute to toast. Be sure to pick up either Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, which are cured and smoked, rather than the Mexican variety, which needs to be cooked. If you prefer not to serve the shrimp shell-on, you can peel prior to frying, but the shells do add a bit more flavour to the sauce. Plus, it’s far more fun to peel the shells and suck off the sauce — just be sure to have plenty of napkins handy. Bottle of Canadian optional.

Garlic Shrimp with Chorizo and Grilled Bread

Serves four as an appetizer, two as a mealillustrated shirmp

  • 2 Spanish or Portuguese chorizo sausages, about 6 in. each, sliced into rounds
  • 1 lb (20–25) jumbo shrimp (with their shells on), deveined*
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) white wine or chicken stock
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette, sliced into thick pieces

* Deveining is the process of removing the shrimp’s intestinal tract. I’m guessing you don’t want to serve that up for happy hour.

  1. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil on medium-high in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Add chorizo and cook until well-browned.
  2. Add garlic and tomatoes and toss, cooking until tomatoes start breaking down.
  3. Stir in wine/stock and allow to sizzle and simmer for a few minutes, stirring. Add shrimp and toss quickly until they are just cooked through (3–5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, brush baguette slices with olive oil. Grill bread on medium heat until lightly toasted on each side.
  5. Move shrimp and chorizo to a warm serving platter, squeeze on some lemon juice and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately with grilled bread on the side.

Illustration by Jeannie Phan