Tapas and happy hour are the perfect cure for beating the cold weather blues. There’s no need to venture out into the snow to socialize—it’s easy to host family and friends with food and a DIY drink right at home.
Tapas are small plate snacks that originated in Spain and easy to prepare then serve with your choice of drink—beer, wine, cocktails or sangria. Add a few varieties of Wisconsin cheese to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide party! Wisconsin cheese naturally complements the bold flavors of tapas. It adds big flavor to simple recipes requiring just a few ingredients, or subtler flavor to more complex tapas dishes with a longer ingredients list.
We’re firm believers that friends and food are the best (and most delicious) way to ward off the winter chill. So relax, fill up your glass and enjoy these five tapas-inspired recipes for a cozy happy hour with family and friends:
If you’re hosting happy hour but find yourself low on time, these flavorful mini skewers take minutes to thread. Cubes of Wisconsin queso blanco are stacked with quince paste—a thick, aromatic jam made from quince fruit—Serrano ham and a grape for a salty-sweet bite. The mild, fresh flavor of queso blanco cheese pairs especially well with sangria.
Green Olive and Cheese Curd Antipasto
Salty green olives, mild Wisconsin cheese curds and red bell peppers are tossed with fresh rosemary, chile flakes, olive oil and red wine vinegar to create a tasty fusion dish perfect for drink-time snacking. While we usually eat our favorite squeaky curds by themselves, this dish proves cheese curds can also be incorporated into more elegant appetizers.
Smoked Gouda-Baked Oysters and Chorizo
Seafood and chorizo are two Spanish delicacies, and in this recipe, they’re getting a hit of Wisconsin flavor with smoked gouda cheese. This tapas dish is the epitome of easy entertaining—it looks fancy to make but is deceivingly simple. Wisconsin smoked gouda adds rich, hickory flavor, while chorizo, a cured sausage, adds heat. With just three ingredients, it’s important each one is high quality to ensure the best flavor.
Meatballs in Chipotle Chile Sauce
Mini meatballs are always a crowd favorite, and these are sure to warm you from within. Made from a combination of ground beef and ground pork, these hearty meatballs are flavored with oregano, cumin and grated Wisconsin cotija cheese. Cotija—known as the parmesan of Mexico—is an intensely sharp cheese that adds a salty bite. Serve these cocktail meatballs with cinnamon-laced Chipotle chile salsa, crumbled Wisconsin queso fresco and a bevy of toothpicks for easy, bite-sized eating.
Ricotta Flatbread with Cranberry-Pomegranate Salsa
Whether you’re guests are lingering over a glass of red wine or sangria, this seasonal flatbread is a welcome sweet treat. Cranberry and pomegranate form a tangy fruit salsa that perfectly contrasts the cool, milky flavor of Wisconsin ricotta cheese. With a hint of orange zest and handful of spicy arugula, this tapas recipe is sure to keep happy hour hunger pains at bay. Flatbread easily feeds a crowd, so cut it up into mini triangles to ensure everyone gets a slice.
So… what’s on your tapas night menu? Tell us in the comments below!