Spanish Tapas – Five quick and delicious appetizers

Eggplant crisps, pepper-garlic mushrooms, bell pepper-cheese mini toasts, roasted tomatoes, pickled veggies

As  promised earlier, here are a few vegetarian tapas if you are in the mood to eat light this summer, or if you just want to incorporate lots of veggies in your diet. Protein rich and non-vegetarian tapas to follow soon! Complement any of these tapas with some of the protein tapas that I will post next time, that way you have a more balanced meal~

tapas collection

Pickled Veggies

Per serving: 30 cals | 1 g protein | 1 g fiber | 0 g total fat | 40 mg Vit C 

Low calories, high fiber for the serving, high vit C

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

1/2 Perisan cucumber, long slices

1/2 red bell pepper (medium), long slices

Any other vegetables of your choice. Since I was using so many veggies for my tapas, I pickled just two of my fave! 🙂

2 tsp vinegar*

1 tsp honey or brown sugar


*Juice of the cucumber usually oozes out to soften the veggies, so no need to add more vinegar, but you can add more if you like.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and keep it in the refrigerator while you prepare other tapas to soften the veggies a bit or leave them overnight to make them very soft. You can even serve immediately to enjoy the crunchiness of the veggies. So, its up to you how long you want to pickle them or just enjoy fresh.

tapas (9)

Pepper Garlic Mushrooms

Per serving: 50 cals | 2 g protein| 1 g fiber | 5 g total fat

Low calories, some fiber, good amount of B-complex vitamins

Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

6-8 mushrooms (button or crimini)/ 0.5 box, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tsp olive oil

salt to taste

generous amount of freshly ground black pepper

chives, minced


Wash and slice the mushrooms.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the chopped garlic. As it turns brown add the mushrooms.

Sprinkle salt and black pepper and cook on medium heat, till done or till brown and crispy. I like to caramelize some for texture and taste. 🙂

Serve with garnish of minced chives.

tapas (12)

Roasted Egg plant Crisps

Per serving: 55 cals | 2 g fiber | 1 g protein| 5 g total fat

Low calories, good amount of fiber for serving size

Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

6 thinly cut eggplant slices

2 tsp olive oil

salt to taste

a pinch or two of paprika or red chili powder

lemon juice, optional


Coat the egg plant pieces with oil, salt, paprika uniformly.

Heat the non-stick pan from the above recipe and cook the eggplant pieces till done on both sides. Cover the pan and keep the heat on medium.

Then uncover the pan and turn up the heat so that they caramelize and become crisp. The thinner the slice, the crispier they will be.

My slices were not evenly thin, but it had a very nice appeal with a part of it being crispy and a small portion being moist and soft. I thought both textures went well together.

Sprinkle additional paprika and/or some lemon juice per your preference.

tapas (23)

Roasted tomatoes

Per serving: 11 cals | 1 g protein | 1 g fiber | 8 mg vit C

Low calories, good amount of fiber for the serving size, some vitamin C

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

2 pearl tomatoes

salt, if needed


Cut the tomatoes like a flower by making two partial longitudinal cuts, being careful not to cut it all the way.

Roast the tomatoes after the eggplant is done in the same pan without additional oil. Or add 0.5 tsp of oil if you are making it on a fresh pan. (NOTE: Oil helps with the absorption of lycopene, anti-oxidant in tomatoes, but there is oil in the other dishes that you would be consuming with these tomatoes as part of your meal, so you may or may not add here)

Cover and let it cook a bit on low heat.

Serve with rest of the tapas. I enjoy my tomatoes without salt, but you can sprinkle some salt & pepper if you prefer.

tapas (6)

Yellow bell pepper & Cheese mini-toasts

Per serving: 90 cals | 4 g protein | 4 g fiber | 3 g total fat | 86 mg Vit C 

High fiber, high vit C, good amount of good quality protein

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (Servings: 2)

1 high fiber bread (3 g or more fiber per slice)

1/2 yellow bell pepper (medium), diced finely

1/4  onion (medium), diced finely

a few cilantro/parsley sprigs, chopped finely

1/8 cup or about 2 tbsp shredded cheese

salt & black pepper to taste


Toast a slice of high fiber bread and then cut into shapes of your choice – circles, mini-triangles or squares.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 30 secs

Serve as a topping on toast pieces.

Prepare this dish just before serving. For variation, try different cheeses or different bell peppers.

tapas (20)

Assemble all tapas on small plates and enjoy with a glass of wine or pair it with the Gazpacho, Spanish Cold Soup

Chicken and seafood tapas coming up next…..

tapas (17)


Gazpacho – the Spanish Soup (Cold & Refreshing)

gazpachoWhat can be better than this refreshing and cleansing cold summer soup to beat the heat? A few simple ingredients and no cooking required – can you ask for more? 😉 There are several gazpacho recipes available online, but here is my take on the Andalusian soup. If you want to experiment then you can add soaked bread to thicken the soup, generous amount of olive oil, some vinegar to increase the tang, and include raw onion to recreate the original recipe. Enjoy it any way you like, but definitely try it out. Bring on some tapas and you have a delicious meal ready in no time (quick, delicious, and, of course healthy). Tapas recipes coming soon- I promise!

Know your key nutrients: By now, I think you might have become familiar with the foods I usually work with and their nutrient profile. You might be able to fill out this section for me, right? 🙂 Can you describe this dish by its nutrient profile in the comments – say whether it is low, moderate or high in terms of its calorie, fiber, protein, fat, vitamin content ? Right answers will get a surprise!

gazpacho (1)

(A hint)

Per serving: 97 calories | 2 g protein | 5 g fat | 1.5 g fiber | Vit C & Pro-vitamin A

Total time: ~ 10 mins 

Ingredients (2 servings)

2 Persian cucumbers, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 red bell pepper (large), de-seeded and diced

1 large clove of garlic

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Chopped Cilantro or grated cheese for garnish


  1. Wash the vegetables and then dice. De-seed only the bell pepper and retain the peel of cucumber. Best is to avoid washing vegetables after cutting. Washing after cutting the vegetable increases the exposed area and washes away the water soluble nutrients with it. More such tips on preserving nutrients are in the GOOD TO KNOW section. 
  2. Blenderize the vegetables along with garlic to make a fine puree. Add some water if necessary.
  3. Collect the puree in a large bowl while you pass it through a fine sieve. Mash the residue as much as possible to extract maximum juice and reduce the solid residue. If you wish to not strain the puree, you may do so. I tried it in order to save the fiber, but the consistency was not so appealing & taste was not as palatable. I found other ways to utilize the fiber rather than discarding it. Save it for your stocks, or spice it up with different spice mixes (red chili powder, cumin & corriander powder, with or without ginger-garlic) and bind with potato or bread crumbs to make patties (like my SCHEZWAN PATTIES recipe) or use it as a filling for your turnovers, parathas, or savory cakes (like my DOODHI DHOKLA recipe).
  4. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and olive oil.
  5. Serve the soup immediately or keep it in the refrigerator for cooling. Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or grated cheese. Salud ! 🙂

gazpacho (2)

Refreshing Mango salsa to Mango ensalada

Hola! 🙂 La ensalada es muy refrescante y deliciosa ….hehe. I made this mango salsa in a few minutes and thought why not add it over lettuce and try it as a salad as well? And, the outcome was very refreshing & delicious! The sweet pulpy mango, the crisp and juicy cucumber and red bell pepper make a great combination. Serve this salsa as a novel side at your 4th of July celebration party! Turn it into a salad or enjoy it plain and simple. This does not even need a dressing – salt and pepper seasoning is enough to justify the union of these lovely ingredients.

mango salsa (1)

If you are wondering what mango I used, then let me be honest. My love for Alphonso mango remains unchanged (you’ll probably say – ya, ya we know that). But the sight of sliced mangoes everywhere tempted me to just go and get a ripe mango! I was delightfully surprised this time (blush). It was a Manila mango- sweet, non-fibrous & pulpy! The last time I had tried a mango, it was a bit disappointing as it was very fibrous and not so flavorful. Unfortunately, I don’t recall what variety it was. Anyways, enjoy this salsa or salad and let me know what you think!

mango salsa (10)

Know your nutrients: One serving of this low calorie salad has fiber equivalent to 4 cups of lettuce. Red bell pepper and mango provide fiber, plenty of vitamin C and mango  with its bonus beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). One serving of this salad provides you more than your daily recommendation of vitamin C.

Per serving : 60 cals |  2 g fiber | 2 g protein | 0 g total fat | Vit C & Provitamin A

Total time: 5 mins

Ingredients (2 servings)

1/2 cup peeled & diced ripe mango

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper ( 1/2 medium red bell pepper)

1 cup diced cucumber (2 Persian cucumbers)

2 cups of lettuce

salt and ground black pepper to taste

mango salsa (12)


  1. Dice and transfer all the vegetable (except lettuce) in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and black pepper and serve it as a mango salsa.
  2. Make a layer of lettuce on a salad plate and delicately transfer the mango salsa to the lettuce. The ingredients are so fresh and flavorful together that you really need no dressing. Just salt and black pepper would suffice! Enjoy~

mango salsa (13)


mango salsa

Schezwan Veggie Patties

If you liked the Schezwan sauce recipe from last week and have tried it out, you will enjoy this recipe all the more. Even if you haven’t, you might be tempted to try. Pan-fried patties are a good way to get yourself to eat all those veggies, without having to complain about the taste (in case you are not so fond of them), or if you need a break from making salads and/or subzis. So, go and camouflage all the veggies that your spouse or your kids don’t like and turn them into a patty (but don’t deep fry them). Pan-frying in the right amount of oil yields an equally appetizing taste while retaining the “healthy food” status. Feel free to incorporate broccoli, cabbage or any vegetable you want to experiment with. Send me a note on how they turn out.

Watch your family’s reaction as they take the first bite. If they have merrily devoured the patties, you may let them in on your secret. 😉


veggie patties schezwan 6

Know your nutrients: This is a low calorie appetizer with some fiber, the amount of which can vary depending on the vegetables used. Use potato only as a binding agent and more of colorful veggies. If you use whole wheat bread (at least 3 g fiber per slice), it will add more fiber to the dish, but then the dish will not be gluten-free. You can serve it as a light meal with a soup preferably containing beans or chicken to add protein to the meal. 

Per serving (2 patties) : 110 cals | 2 g protein | 6.5 g total fat | 2 g fiber

Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients (10 patties, 5 servings)

1 cup green beans, halved

1/2 carrot, cut into 10-12 slices

1/2 cup green peas

1 medium cooked potato (US) or 2 medium potatoes (India), peeled & mashed or 1-2 slice of whole wheat bread

4 tsp oil (used in two parts: 2 tsp + 2 tsp)

2 tbsp Schezwan Sauce

Salt to taste


  1. Boil a potato, peel & mash it. If you have already pressure cooked potatoes along with your rice &/ dal/beans the previous day, it can save you time. Alternatively, grind whole wheat bread in a grinder to make fine powder. Use this as a binding agent instead of potato. Moisten the bread if needed.
  2. Pass the veggies (carrot, green beans, peas) through a grinder to make a coarse mixture. Be careful not to make a fine or smooth paste, otherwise the texture is lost and the taste will not be the same.
  3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a non-stick pan and add the ground veggies. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then add the Schezwan sauce, and salt to taste and mix well. Continue to saute for 2-3 mins and turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool.
  5. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, add the mashed potato. Adjust salt and make 10 patties. Delicately roll the mixture to a ball and lightly flatten them.
  6. Heat 2 tsp oil in the same pan & pan-fry the patties on both sides.
  7. Serve with ketchup as a snack/appetizer or a light meal with a soup preferably containing beans or chicken to add protein to the meal.

veggie patties schezwan4


veggie patties schezwan6


Schezwan veggie patties

Quick & Easy Schezwan Sauce/ Sichuan Sauce

Its hard to not laugh while reading the Indian-Chinese section of the menu in Indian restaurants (if they offer this specialty). Only a few dishes served under this heading, may have authentic resemblance to the food prepared in China. Our friend, who is from the Sichaun, was very intrigued by this concept and the variety of innovative fusion dishes. The names are especially interesting –  Chicken 65 (with or without the dragon prefix!!), Vegetable Manchurian, and so on…. 😀

Schezwan sauce, a variant of the original Sichuan sauce from the Sichuan province of China, is quite popular in India, and in Indian restaurants here in the US. It is either mixed in while preparing the dish or served on the side as a dipping sauce. Either way, it tastes delicious!!


schezuan sauce (3)d

Know your nutrients: “Indianized” Chinese cuisine, although liked by most Indians, can be unhealthy. You probably already know that its quite greasy, contains high amounts of Sodium, and may contain MSG (ajinomoto) and/or artificial red color. Here’s how you can make your favorite Schezuan sauce in a few minutes, with more control over oil and sodium and no artificial colors. You can use this instead of Sriracha Sauce!

Stay tuned for recipes using this sauce to vet your appetite for Indo-Chinese, in a more mindful manner!

Per serving (1 tbsp): 69 cals |6 g total fat |3 g sugar

schezuan sauce (1)

Cooking Time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients (5 servings- 5 tbsp)

2 Kashmiri Red chili (soaked in hot water for 30 mins)- These are not spicy chilies; but are valued for the natural red color they impart.

3 large cloves of garlic

1.5″ ginger piece

1/4 yellow onion (US) or 1/2 red onion (India), diced

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 red chili powder / cayenne pepper (more if you like it HOT)

1/2 tsp sugar (optional, if your ketchup is tangy)

2 tbsp oil (3 tbsp if you want to preserve)

Salt to taste

schezuan sauce (5)c


  1. Grind the red chilies, onion, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste with 1/4 cup water.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and when its warm (not hot), add the smooth paste. Let it boil on medium heat, while stirring it constantly, for 2-3 mins.
  3. Then add ketchup, sugar, red chili powder and salt and mix well. Let it boil and thicken to desired consistency.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a bowl for serving or into a small jar for later use! Enjoy~

schezuan sauce (28)

Note:  This sauce can last for 1-2 week in the refrigerator. However, if you want to make a bigger batch and preserve it for a longer period, add additional oil (1 tbsp). I haven’t tried preserving it for a longer time, so I am not sure of its shelf-life beyond 2 weeks. If you try, please do let me know! Thanks! 🙂


Schezuan sauce