TAPAS CON FIONA
by Dea Castrejon
We had the pleasure of cooking tapas with a new friend of ours from Madrid, Spain. Fiona Redondo, one of my husband’s coworkers, is temporarily living here in Bethlehem for a six-month work stint. During this time, we have been fortunate enough to meet up on a few occasions, where we have learned more about her, as well as the Spanish culture.
On our most recent visit, Fiona explained that “tapas en Madrid” is a very popular practice among the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, especially in the summertime. For anyone who is unfamiliar, tapas are appetizers, snacks or small plates of food in Spanish cuisine. These “tiny meals” are usually enjoyed with a company of friends over some sort of beer or wine. Fiona also explained that the serpentine streets of Madrid are heavily spotted with tapas bars, each known for certain specialties, and all are invariably packed with people for this weekly tradition.
So in honor of our wonderful new friend, and of course the utility of granola, we will be uniting a little bit of Spain with the taste of The Granola Factory.
Fiona and I put together a beautiful tapas plate: crunchy toast with fresh mozzarella, arugula, sliced peaches, and a crumbled, crispy mixture of bacon and honey pecan granola. The final touch to our plate was a drizzle of honey balsamic vinegar reduction. This is easily one of the prettiest pieces I have ever made, and I can attest, the taste matches the eye-appeal!
I am so excited to share this recipe with you!
Crunchy Toast with Crumbled Granola Topping
*Makes 24 crunchy toasts
1 sourdough baguette
7 pieces of bacon
1 cup Organic Honey Pecan Granola
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
2 cups arugula
1 or 2 peaches, sliced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon of honey
Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Place the bacon on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for 8 minutes. Drain any grease, flip the bacon, and cook for another 8 minutes, or until crunchy. Set on stovetop to cool. Once cool, chop up bacon into small pieces (like “bacon bits”), and mix in with a bowl of granola. Set aside until you assemble your tapas.
While bacon is still cooking, you can gather and prepare the rest of your tapas ingredients. Slice peaches and fresh mozzarella. Set aside. Next, grab a small frying pan to start the honey balsamic reduction. Turn stovetop to medium high heat and pour in balsamic vinegar. Let this bubble up a little bit, stirring the vinegar every so often. As the vinegar starts to thicken (about 5-7 minutes), add honey. Not only does this help thicken the reduction more quickly, but the sweeter taste will certainly complement this dish.
Line another baking sheet with foil and cut baguette into ½ inch slices. Lay out the pieces of bread on the sheet and place in oven. Because the oven is sitting at such a high temperature, these pieces of bread will only take a couple of minutes to become crunchy (about 3-5).
Remove bread slices from oven and immediately start to assemble. Start with a piece of crunchy toast. Add a slice of mozzarella, a couple of arugula leaves, and a slice of peach. Top toast with a spoonful of the granola bacon mixture, and to end, drizzle about ½ tablespoon of reduction on each crunchy toast. Plate two pieces for each tapas dish. How pretty is that!
Enjoy! Or, as they would say in Madrid, “¡Buen provecho!”