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Preparing a Tapas Plate for a Healthy Dinner

September 11, 2012 Le Cordon Bleu San Francisco 0 Comments

Preparing a Tapas Plate for a Healthy Dinner

If you'd like to change up tonight's regular dinner plans and still eat delicious foods without going overboard on the greasy stuff, try preparing a tapas plate for a healthy and tasty meal you won't forget. According to Spanish culture, tapas are between-meal appetizers that are designed to keep you from getting hungry during the long break after lunch and before dinner. Traditionally, lunch is served anywhere from 1pm to 3pm in Spain, and dinner usually doesn't occur until 9pm to midnight. When most people get off of work, they usually go to the bars to have a few drinks and to chat it up with friends. After a long day of work and not eating since lunch, tapas are served alongside the drinks to keep the belly occupied until the full meal. Tapas plates are a staple on many menus these days and California culinary schools are known for teaching students some of the latest and greatest preparation techniques.

Tapas portions are usually pretty small, but the variety of food served is quite vast. What keeps it so interesting is that you are eating only a bite of many foods at once, and that gives you a chance to taste many different flavors instead of a single boring one. This is a concept that is often taught in college for culinary arts. Even though you may not eat like the Spanish do, tapas can easily be transformed into a full meal for dinner. All you have to do is pick and choose which tapas dishes you would like to have, then combine them onto a single platter to be eaten all at once. Portion size is not a problem because you can eat as little or as much as you want until you are satisfied – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating your own tapas!

First, you will have to decide what type of tapas you want to eat. If the focus here is healthy eating, fried foods would be off the list. Red meats are also not the best choices, although they can be fairly nutritious depending on the cut and cooking method. You probably want a nice balance of proteins, carbs, veggies, and contrasting textures too.

Some great choices for proteins are: salted cod loin served with tomato and bread, white anchovies served in vinegar, prawns sautéed in peppercorn sauce, stuffed mussels, Galician-style octopus or scallops, and chicken Moorish spike. If you are attending a school near the ocean like any of the California culinary schools for example, you will have some of the best seafood options for your protein.

When it comes to veggies, there are plenty of great choices available. Anchovy stuffed olives, fresh mushrooms in garlic and olive oil, pickled vegetable skewers, "the little Russian salad," and mild green peppers from Padron are all nutritious vegetable choices.

If you want great starches, try aioli served on bread, heavily-spiced and boiled small potatoes, or a vegetable and chopped chorizo tortilla.

Normally, tapas are made beforehand and laid out side-by-side in small trays covered with lids. People then add a bit of each dish to their own plates for eating. For your purposes, you only need to make enough for one person. However, that may be a bit inconvenient, so a better idea might be to prepare regular portions and save the leftovers for tapas dinners for the next few nights. Eating healthy doesn't have to mean forcing bland and boring food down your throat. You can eat exciting meals like tapas and still feel great about it afterwards and feel like you are a master from a college for culinary arts!

This article is presented by California Culinary Academy. California Culinary Academy offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in San Francisco, California. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/San-Francisco for more information. 
Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures.  Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.


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