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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Tapas - Shrimps al ajillo, saffron patatas bravas & rum aioli, asparagus and Ibérico cheese toast

A quick and simple feast with flavors of epic proportions.

(Photo: Jonas Hoss)

Y Viva España, so does the quintessential renowned paso doble song goes. Equally, Viva las tapas!

During those hectic weeknights when you want to eat something fulfilling but also something that can be simply and quickly done, tapas (small delectable dishes) will always deliver, with unparalleled satisfaction.

The great thing about these new dishes is that they all can be made in the oven. Less time cooking, more time eating. Si!

I hope you all love garlic and olive oil, because they are tapas staple ingredients.

(Photo: Michele Blackwell) Tapas Menu:

Jumbo Shrimps al ajillo (garlic shrimps)

Saffron patatas bravas (spicy saffron potatoes)

Roasted asparagus

Sicilian Olive Oil toast with Ibérico cheese wedges

Wine pairing:

2016 Carlos Serres Rioja - Crianza (Tempranillo) Haro, España

This menu serves 4

Let’s get cooking!


Shrimps al ajillo

Patatas Bravas

  • 1 1/2 lbs of small yellow potatoes (parboiled, cooled and chopped into thick rounds)

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon of paprika

  • 1 tablespoon of saffron (mixed with 4 tablespoons of water)

  • Coarse sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

  • 1/3 cup of Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rum aioli

Toast & Cheese




Preheat oven to 350 F.

On a deep, ovenproof baking dish or Pyrex, arrange shrimps evenly.

Season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Generously sprinkle garlic all over the dish (on top and around the shrimps). Sprinkle pepper flakes evenly on each shrimp.

Drizzle olive oil on top and around the shrimps. Bake for 10 minutes, broil low for additional 2 minutes before serving.


Parboil potatoes ahead of time until you can pierce a knife through. Drain and cool. Cut potatoes in thick rounds.

Preheat oven to 305 F.

On a large, shallow ovenproof dish or Pyrex, lightly coat with extra Virgin olive oil. Arrange potatoes evenly.

Sprinkle chopped garlic throughout the dish. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle paprika evenly on top of all of the potatoes.

Pour as evenly as possible, the saffron/water mixture on top of all of the potatoes. Drizzle the top of potatoes generously with olive oil.

Bake at least 15 minutes or until a light golden brown. You could broil it on low with the shrimps for additional 2 minutes.


On a large skillet or frying pan, heat olive oil on low-medium heat. Cook onions and garlic for approximately 5 minutes. Add paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add rum and stir until rum evaporates. Add tomatoes and stir for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add onion-tomato mixture to a blender, add chopped parsley and 1 cup of mayonnaise. Blend well, pour aioli into a small serving bowl. Set aside.

Bread & cheese:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

On a shallow baking sheet, arrange bread rounds evenly. Generously drizzle plenty of extra Virgin olive oil on top of each round. Add a very small pinch of sea salt on top of each bread. Toast until almost golden brown.

Slice Ibérico (or Manchego) cheese in thin triangular wedges.

Serve it up:

Tapas are typically served on individual, small dishes. This feast merits a family style presentation, on its ovenproof dishes where each person can serve themselves as little or as much as they want on individual plates.


For patatas bravas, I recommend you lightly drizzle some of the rum aioli on top of the potatoes. Save some rum aioli on a small serving bowl for additional spooning.

For bread and cheese, arrange bread rounds on one side of large dish and cheese wedges on the other side, optional nice touch, put a small bowl in the middle of the plate, filled with chopped walnuts, drizzled with honey.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Wine pairing

A good Spanish tapas night merits a great Spanish wine. What better way than to pair these dishes than a classic Rioja.

Rioja is a wine region in Spain, with denominación de origen calificada (D.O.Ca., "Qualified Designation of Origin," the highest category in Spanish wine regulation).

A special thanks to Wine Sellers Ltd.

I cannot thank enough my friends at Wine Sellers Limited for partnering with Carlos’ Food & Wine and providing probably one of the best Riojas I have ever had.

2016 Carlos Serres Rioja - Crianza (Tempranillo) Haro, España

Available directly online and at selected wine stores ($15-$20).

This fantastic Rioja - Crianza (100% Tempranillo grapes) boasts intense red fruit and spicy aroma with delicate liquorice hints. Complex, well-balanced while fresh and fruity.

Carlos Serres Rioja - Crianza is aged 14 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels, then a minimum of 6 months ageing in bottle.

Extremely versatile, this Rioja is the perfect match for Mediterranean cuisine such as fried fish or vegetable dishes, rice, pasta, pulses, red and white meats and even cheese...and well, tapas, of course.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Buen provecho! Salud!


(Photo: Pepe Saez)

120 views4 comments


Flor Gomez
Flor Gomez
Oct 16, 2020

Yum 😋


Oct 14, 2020

Question for you... I seem to have a reaction to garlic... have you heard of any solutions?


Toni Menicocci
Toni Menicocci
Oct 14, 2020

Wow! Looks spectaculare! ♥️


Aida Limongi
Aida Limongi
Oct 14, 2020

Delicioso 😋 y bellisimo

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