It’s hard to think of Spanish food without immediately thinking “tapas”

Consisting of small plates of tastes, tapas items range from a bowl of olives to a skewer of pan-fried prawns. The culinary tradition has spread deliciously around the globe.

When tracing its origins we see that the tapas ritual emerged in Spain’s Andalusian taverns and from the word ‘tapar’ meaning ‘to cover’. Originally tapas consisted of a piece of bread or meat that covered the sherry glasses of drinkers to protect their sweet sherry from fruit flies. Salty meats like chorizo made drinkers thirstier and bartenders realised that the more variety of tapas they served, the more drinks their customers would order. Thus with thirsty drinkers, the tapas tradition was born and still thrives in Spain today.  

But why not bring a little Spain into your home? Tapas is a healthy, light and fun way to encourage kids to try a variety of nutritional flavours and engage in meal times as an integral part of a happy family life. They say serving tapas can enhance social interaction, as the pass-around bites give plenty of room for the conversation to flow. To add to the family fiesta here’s a Spanish dinner menu from which even the kids can feast.

Tapas to start

- Empanadas are Spain’s answer to savoury pasties. Fill them with minced beef, pork or cheese. Or for a sweeter alternative, cram them with stewed apple for dessert.

- Whoever you serve them to patatas bravas aren’t likely to last long. These chunky potato wedges can be dipped in salsa or aioli to take them to extra heights of moreish.  

- Have fun cooking pinchos over the barbecue. These mini skewers usually take the form of meat or chicken but for added colour, variety and vitamins, put together a veggie skewer.

- Courgette chips are a healthier and arguably more flavourful version than potato chips. Plus they’re an ideal way to get greens into the kids.

- Serve shots of gazpacho in hollowed out cucumber glasses, for quick injections of health and flavour. Although tomato most famously plays the main part, mix things up by visiting your local farmer’s market with the kids. Get them to pick a variety of seasonal veg – peppers, celery, cucumber, garlic, chillies - and toss them in the blend with fresh tomato. Chill the soup and watch your kids throw back the antioxidants as though it were a milk-chugging game.

Traditional tortilla for mains

This variation of a frittata is served across Spain and can be customised with all sorts of ingredients. Consisting largely of eggs, potatoes and onions it’s one of those dishes you can throw together when there appears to be next-to-nothing in the pantry. For a superb take on this sumptuous part of a typical Spanish dinner menu, Amanda Hess of food52 adds a little parmesan to this tortilla recipe. Serve slices as a tapas option or whole with a fresh side salad as a main.

Chocolate-dipped churros for dessert

In under an hour you can whip up this surprisingly easy-to-make yet undeniably impressive Spanish doughnut dessert. As an extension of the tapas fun, these piped sweet and fried pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar can be passed around the table to dip in rich chocolate sauce as a deservedly decadent end to a Spanish dinner menu with a personal flair.

You’ve brought Spain to the family; next, why not take the family to Spain?

For an authentic Spanish foodie experience to share with your family, the Costa Blanca regions offers a top selection of luxury family hotels in Calpe that provide the real-deal when it comes to that mouth-watering Spanish dinner menu. Savour the flavours alongside staggering sea views, between trips to luxury spas, while your kids expend energy and make friends participating in the numerous activities or exploring the charm and natural beauty of the region. For more information about family-friendly hotels in Calpe contact AR Hotels,leaders in Spanish hospitality, spa experiences and authentic cuisine.