One of the easiest and most appetizing tapas to produce in a busy restaurant or bar is a banderilla, an assortment of cold tidbits on a small skewer or toothpick. Banderillas can be assembled entirely ahead, and they hold up well.

Preserved foods such as olives, anchovies, marinated artichokes, cocktail onions and roasted peppers are good prospects for banderillas, which typically include some salty or pickled elements to encourage customers to have another drink. When thoughtfully made, banderillas are colorful and eye appealing and deliver an inviting contrast of textures and flavors.

“The trick when eating banderillas is to put everything that is on the toothpick in your mouth at once (it is usually not as much as it appears to be) so that as you chew the taste of each ingredient comes forth and merges with the rest,” writes Penelope Casas, author of Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain.

Here are some ingredients to consider for improvising banderillas. Limit each skewer to four or five ingredients, and keep each one small so diners can follow Casas’s advice. Placing a dab of mayonnaise on the beef or brushing the banderillas with a little vinaigrette makes the results particularly flavorful.
  • Cold rare roast beef
  • Small meatballs
  • Roasted pimientos or bell peppers
  • Olives
  • Chunks of cornichons
  • Anchovy-wrapped capers
  • Caperberries
  • Cocktail onions
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Marinated mushrooms
  • Cubed cheese
  • Cooked asparagus tips
  • Boiled potato


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