Party Planning Tips, Versatile Spanish Garlic Shrimp Recipe and Tapas Menu For an Epic Gathering
Ready for a Summer Tapas Party? I’m sharing my favorite Spanish Garlic Shrimp recipe, easy party planning tips, and Tapas Menu so you can dial down the work and turn up the fun! This post is shared in partnership with CK Mondavi and Family Wines. All opinions are my own. As always, I only share with you products and experiences I love, to inspire you to get together with family and friends, celebrate life, and #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip, and trip at a time!
My take on the classic “gambas al ajillo” or Spanish Garlic Shrimp appetizer comes together in about 10 minutes and can be easily turned into a main course served over pasta. Everyone loves a garlicky sauce and this recipe uses a whole head of garlic! Plus olive oil, butter, fresh lemon, white wine, and a touch of spice from red chile peppers. Be warned, you may end up wanting more sauce (I have instructions if you do!) It’s perfect for dipping crusty bread!Jump to Recipe
Traditional Gambas Al Ajillo vs. My Version of Spanish Garlic Shrimp
The traditional “gambas al ajillo” recipe from Spain calls for sherry, manzanilla, or dry white wine depending on the region. It also does not incorporate butter which is more in line with an Italian scampi recipe. I took a little bit of both of these classic recipes and made my own.
I added butter and Chardonnay to make it a richer sauce. Combined with the spicy red chile flakes, bright parsley, and all that garlic, it’s the best of both worlds! And it pairs beautifully with the new CK Mondavi and Family Buttery Chardonnay. Who doesn’t love butter, garlic, and wine!?
If you feel like going lighter, skip the butter and pair it with CK Mondavi’s Bright & Fresh Chardonnay. Which is a crisper, more citrusy, and less oaky version. Try it both ways. This is what I love about cooking! It is all up to your whim and what you feel like that day.
CK Mondavi Spring / Summer Block Party Inspiration
I first met the CK Mondavi team at a Spanish restaurant in 2016, and soon thereafter became one of their first Ambassadors. The sangria flowed, tapas and paella were devoured and the flamenco dancers got us all in the fun Spanish vibe. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years! And I’m proud to continue to share my love of CK Mondavi wines today and partner with this family-owned and run winery with a 75+ year history.
In celebration of CK Mondavi launching two new wine varietals (more about that below), I thought it was only fitting that I bring it full circle and share my favorite tapas menu for the CK Mondavi Spring/Summer Block Party series.
Join Riana Mondavi, winemaker Randy Herron and me on Instagram Live @CKMondaviWines on Thursday 5/19 at 4 pm PST/ 7 pm EST! We will be tasting the new releases and hearing all about how they were developed directly from the winemaker. I’ll be sharing more party planning tips and Riana will share more about her family’s rich history of winemaking. It’s going to be a deliciously fun time!
Travel Inspiration: Spain
My recipes are always inspired by travel and it’s no secret, we’ve missed international travel these past two years. We’ve done a lot more imaginary travel via food and wine and I have no complaints about that. I loved visiting Barcelona, San Sebastian, and the Basque Region of Spain in 2018 and can’t wait to go back.
The tapas bars experience is truly unlike anything else in the world. Small plates and wine is a way of life and my favorite way to dine. The atmosphere is electric, loud, so ebullient and full of life, and yet surprisingly laid back. This contrast is not lost on Spaniards. Their most popular dishes are equally prepared fast – i.e. gambas al ajillo – and slow – i.e. paella.
Let’s explore Spain with this Tapas Menu for an Easy Summer Party!
Easy Tapas Menu for Your Summer Party
Here are some ideas for an easy Tapas Party at home this summer:
- Aceitunas / Olives: Get a variety but skip the olive bar. Instead, dress up store-bought Castelveltrano olives with orange and lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and parsley or stuff them with anchovies, pickles or peppers. (Try my citrus & fennel marinated olives)
- Raciones de Queso Y Embutidos / Cheese & Charcuterie board: Another party favorite! I typically choose 3 kinds of cheese (Manchego, Cow’s Milk Cheeses, Goat cheese, and Blue Cheese are my go-to) Add 3 types of cured meats (prosciutto, salami, chorizo, sopresatta), fancy crackers, nuts, and dried fruits.
- PRO-TIP #1: Create “jarcuterie” – individually portioned jars or cups filled with meats, cheeses and accompaniments if you have time and want to minimize sharing. It reminds me of the cones on the tapas bars in Spain.
- PRO-TIP #2: Create smaller cheese and charcuterie boards and place in various locations around the house depending on the number of guests. This helps you avoid waste and spoilage in the heat of the summer. Having a giant board brings a lot of oohs and aahs but it’s not as practical. Check out this post if you want more tips to create an epic cheese and charcuterie board.
- Gambas al Ajillo / Garlic Shrimp: who doesn’t love shrimp and garlic? You can serve it in a variety of ways. Direct from the skillet or transferred to a clay bowl with crusty bread on the side; arranged on toast for a fancier hors d’oeuvre or if you want something heartier, serve over pasta.
- Bocaditos / Open-faced sandwiches: In Spain, they top slices of bread with just about anything! Get creative with meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, roasted vegetables, and more.
- Empanadas / Hand Pies: pastries filled with meats, cheeses, or veggies are always a crowd favorite. Try this easy Beef Empanada recipe which uses a great shortcut to save time and effort.
- Flatbreads on the grill are great for a Summer Party! You can even have the ingredients set up for guests to top their own. Try this flatbread recipe with Prosciutto and Artichokes
- If you want to go all out, try this “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” easy paella. It uses just about anything you have in the fridge.
- Don’t forget the sangria and wine!
Summer Party Planning Tips
Start with an Easy Menu:
No one wants to spend all day in the kitchen, especially during the heat of Summer, so choose recipes that will come together quickly. This Spanish Garlic Shrimp is ready in 10 minutes!
Dress Up Store-Bought Items:
Chopped fresh herbs and fresh orange and lemon zest will brighten up almost anything. I used them to dress up store-bought Castelveltrano olives and they’re so much better than the ones you find at the grocery store’s olive bar.
To save time when throwing a party, don’t be afraid to purchase ready-made platters of veggies, dips, fruits, and other snacks. My trick is to always transfer and re-arrange on my own platters and serving ware. Garnish with herbs or fresh fruit and immediately up the wow factor.
Create a Signature Cocktail:
Having one cocktail or punch you can make in batches is a great time-saver, helps keep costs in line, and is a fun way to incorporate a theme into your party. Sangrias and wine-based cocktails are perfect for summer! I’ve made several using CK Mondavi Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Choose Easy To Drink Wines:
When it comes to entertaining a crowd, keep wines approachable. Wine palates vary. I may like bright and crisp wines, but aunt Nelly might prefer bold and rich. Everyone is happy with a range of varietals. Check out this post for more tips on choosing wines for a party, how much to buy, and how to serve.
This is why I love entertaining with CK Mondavi and Family wines. They not only offer great quality representative of the varietal, but they’re also easy to drink with or without food, whether you’re serving light appetizers or a full meal. Plus they have so many varietals – Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a Red Blend. You can offer a selection so your guests can taste and discover their favorites. It also helps they come at a great value, around $6.99 a bottle.
If that’s not enough, their whites feature a thermochromic label, which changes color when perfectly chilled, at approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The Buttery Chardonnay label goes from creme to golden when it’s ready to drink!
CK Mondavi NEW Buttery Chardonnay and Dark Cabernet Sauvignon
This Spring, CK Mondavi and Family introduced two bold wines to their lineup of easy-drinking, easy-to-love, and easy-to-find offerings. The new Buttery Chardonnay and Dark Cabernet Sauvignon offer a more amplified representation of these classic varietals.
- The Buttery Chardonnay has aromas of fresh citrus and melted butter, and flavors of vanilla and buttercream. Malolactic fermentation leads to the rich, creamy flavor and lush finish, while the oak regime brings out notes of maple and brown sugar. The wine spent approximately two months in 100% French oak with a medium toast level. As the name suggests, this wine is perfect for those who love a buttery, oaky Chardonnay. I would serve it with roasted chicken or creamy pasta dishes.
- CK Mondavi and Family’s original Chardonnay is crisper, with no malolactic fermentation, and flavors of fresh apple and pear that mingle with a hint of oak. I love to use this wine in cocktails, such as my Southern Apple Pie Sangria and White Tiki Cocktail.
- Ruby red in color, the Dark Cabernet Sauvignon makes a statement with vibrant black fruit character and notes of mocha and coffee. The full-bodied wine ends with a plush, velvety finish. It’s recognizably richer than the winery’s classic Cabernet Sauvignon, which offers brighter notes of cherry and baking spice. Make this Gastropub Cab and Blue Burger and try both wines to see which you prefer! I think the new Dark Cabernet Sauvignon will be perfect with my Coffee Crusted Prime Rib!
Now with the 2 Chardonnay’s and 2 Cabernets, you can have everyone sample them side by side for fun party conversation. You’ll notice the distinct flavor profiles of each to help you find your favorite! I find the new Buttery Chardonnay and Dark Cabernet Sauvignon to be more elegant and rich, perfect to serve on their own with dinner.
About CK Mondavi and Family
CK Mondavi and Family are the first and only wines 100% “Made in USA Certified®” and the family produces wines that are consistent, vintage-to-vintage, providing consumers with a value and quality they can rely on. Today, CK Mondavi and Family remains one of the most successful wine brands in America because of its excellent quality and great value. To learn more about CK Mondavi and Family check out ckmondavi.com and follow them on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. They have a fun infographic for wine pairings too. To stay up to date on all the news from CK Mondavi and Family, sign up for their newsletter, Eventi.
In addition to the new Buttery Chardonnay and Dark Cabernet Sauvignon, the complete CK Mondavi and Family collection includes Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Red Blend, all available nationwide for a suggested retail price of $6.99 for a 750 ml bottle., and $13.99 for a 1.5L magnum.
Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas Al Ajillo) Recipe
I hope you’ll enjoy my version of Spanish Garlic Shrimp recipe. If you do, please don’t forget to share it with your family and friends and tag me @GoEpicurista #GoEpicRecipe
This classic Spanish tapas appetizer comes together in about 10 minutes and can be easily turned into an entree served over pasta. Everyone loves a garlicky sauce and this one uses a whole head of garlic, olive oil, butter, fresh lemon, white wine, and a touch of spice from red chile peppers and paprika. You may end up wanting to make more sauce! It's perfect for dipping crusty bread!
- 1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter (skip if you prefer a lighter dish)
- 1 head of garlic (10-14 garlic cloves, chopped or thin sliced)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less based on your spice level preferences)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or smoked pimenton)
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine (I used CK Mondavi Chardonnay)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
- Crusty Bread
- 1 lb Spaguetti or Angel Hair (if you wish to serve as an entree over pasta)
- Gather and prep all ingredients. This is key to the quick preparation time.
If using frozen shrimp, thaw completely under running cold water and then pat dry before using. I prefer peeled shrimp with the tail on as it is easier to serve and eat. However, in Spain, they serve the larger prawns with the shell on. It's your preference.
- Season shrimp with kosher salt and set aside.
In a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat.
Once oil is shimmering, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, lower the heat, and sauté for about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the pan smoke, oil overheat or garlic to burn.
Raise the heat to medium high (based on your stove), add the shrimp, fresh lemon juice, white wine, and paprika. Stir well to coat the shrimp, then add the butter, and sauté until the shrimp turn opaque / pink and start to curl, about 3 minutes depending on the size of shrimp.
- Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer the shrimp to a warm bowl and pour over the sauce, or you can serve straight from the pan. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, fresh lemon zest, and a pinch of chili flakes.
- Serve with crusty fresh bread or over pasta.
If serving over pasta, cook pasta separately and top with shrimp immediately before serving.
If you want to make extra sauce to dip into the bread or serve over the pasta, double and divide the ingredients for the sauce (olive oil, butter, white wine, lemon juice, paprika). Follow directions above, once shrimp is cooked, remove from pan, add additional sauce ingredients and saute for a minute or so until butter is melted and all ingredients are properly melded together.
Join us for a Summer Block Party on Instagram Live!
I’m joining Riana Mondavi, brand ambassador, Director of Chains -Western Region and 4th Generation Mondavi, and winemaker Randy Herron on Instagram Live – @CKMondavi – Thursday 5/19, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific / 7:00 p.m. EST. We will be tasting the two new Spring releases and how they compare to their original Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I will also be sharing more Summer Block Party planning tips and appetizers to get the party started.
CK Mondavi and Family Spring Block Party Instagram Live Series
- May 19 // Start Your Party with guests head winemaker Randy Herron and Christina Thomas of Go Epicurista. You can view a replay of our Instagram Live here!
- May 26 // Mains & Sweets with guest Tracy Shaw of Food Wine & Sunshine – Tracy shares some great tips for planning a Summer Block Party and a recipe for BBQ Sliders!
- June 2 // Sip & Share with guests Marc Mondavi and Derek Kwong, Barkeep SF
“Our family is dedicated to making delicious wines that bring people together, and we’re looking forward to showcasing just how versatile our wines are for fun gatherings.,” said Riana Mondavi, Brand Ambassador and Director of Chains – Western Region. “We’ve invited some great friends and recipe developers to talk with us about food and wine pairings, wine cocktails, entertaining tips, block party themes, and more.”
I hope you'll enjoy my Elvis Sandwich Sliders Recipe with family and friends and are inspired to celebrate life and do all the fun things you've been putting off to "someday." Go #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip, and trip at a time.
Disclosure: This post is written in partnership with Warner Brothers Pictures. As always, all opinions are my own. I only share with you products and experiences I love to inspire you to get together with family and friends, celebrate life and go #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip, and trip at a time! To learn more about my guidelines, check out my disclosure policy. Cheers!