Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Beyond Barbecue: The Summer Tapas Trend

(ARA) – Summer is synonymous with outdoor picnics, barbeques and entertaining family and friends. This year, instead of grilling up the same barbeque staples, experiment with tapas-style recipes that are light and sensible and embrace the flavors of the season. Your guests will sure be satisfied by these, small, tasty and distinctive food choices.

Tapas, which originated in Spain, is the name for a variety of appetizers or small plates of food, such as olives and cheese, seafood such as squid, empanadas, fried potatoes and omelets. Since arriving in the United States, the tapas trend has evolved into an entire cuisine. In fact, now there are a variety of ethnic small plate servings beyond tapas, which include meze, from the Mediterranean, and dim sum and sushi from Asia.

Preparing meals tapas-style is ideal when entertaining because you can offer your guests a variety of small plates that are portion-controlled yet deliciously light and sensible for the summer. Try these mouth-watering alternatives at your next gathering.

Traditional: Hamburgers and Hotdogs
Tapas-style: Mini Turkey Meatballs

Turkey meatballs are a great choice for small plates and let guests have a protein option that is more sensible than fatty hamburgers and hotdogs. Cook some in your favorite lightly-flavored sauce and place between three and five on a plate. Bon appetit!

Traditional: Fruit Bowl Salad
Tapas-style: Individual Grilled Fruit Skewers

During summer, grocery stores and farmer’s markets are bursting with nature’s bounty of sweet fruit. Go tapas-style and separate your favorite fruit selections on individual fruit skewers. For a unique taste, set fruit kabobs on the grill for several minutes and let the heat bring out the sweet flavor.

Traditional: Pizza
Tapas-style: Mini Pizza

Good tapas embrace light portions and variety. Everyone loves pizza so go tapas-style and make a batch of mini pizzas for your guests. These can be made on Weight Watchers Whole Wheat Pita Bread with tomato sauce, sprinkled with low fat Mozzarella cheese and topped with a variety of vegetables including mushrooms, broccoli and onion.

Traditional: Sandwiches
Tapas-style: Tea Sandwiches

Tea sandwiches are prepared sandwiches that are small enough to be eaten in two or three bites. Most are made from traditional white or wheat bread and are filled with a variety of savory cheese and meats. Start by making full sandwiches and removing the crusts. Cut each into four triangle pieces. For a fun summer theme, use flower or animal shaped cookie cutters to cut out tea sandwich shapes.

Traditional: Chocolate Cake
Tapas-style: Yogurts or Chocolate Candies

Individually packaged yogurts or chocolate candies are a perfect dessert option for a tapas party instead of a high fat chocolate cake. Weight Watchers yogurts, for example, come in a variety of indulgent flavors including amaretto cheesecake, Boston cream pie and cherry cheesecake, so guests can choose their favorite for a cool summer treat. Another option is to serve is Weight Watchers chocolate candies including the new Peanut Butter Cups or Chocolate Mousse candies, unwrapped and displayed on a beautiful glass platter.

If you think tapas might be a good idea for your next gathering, try this recipe for delicious veggie sandwiches:

Grilled Veggie Pocket with Fresh Herb Pesto
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Makes one sandwich, which can be cut in half for tapas-style plates.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon pesto
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into thin strips
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 garlic clove
1 tablespoon reduced-fat grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons pignoli nuts
1 Weight Watchers 100-percent Whole Wheat Pita Pocket, toasted

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange red onion and zucchini in a single layer across baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables soften, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat promptly and set aside to cool slightly.

2) Meanwhile, to make the pesto, combine basil leaves, garlic, cheese and yogurt in a food processor and pulse on medium-high speed until smooth and well blended. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and stir in lemon juice and pignoli nuts. Add vegetables and toss to coat. Spoon vegetable-pesto mixture into pita pocket. You can serve this sandwich whole, or cut into small pieces perfect for a tapas party.

Per serving (1 sandwich): 260 Cal, 7 g Fat, 0.5 g Sat Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 10 mg Chol, 550 mg Sod, 46 g Carb, 13 g Fib, 13 g Prot, 20 percent Calc. POINTS value: 5.

For more healthy meal ideas, visit WeightWatchers.com/sensiblefoods.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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