a plate of small bites like eggs, grapes, bread, dips, and salami.

Tapas Night

How do you turn a boring dinner of leftovers into something everyone loves? Marketing! The dreaded “leftover” becomes “TAPAS NIGHT” in my house with little more than a baguette and some food styling. (A “tapa” is a small snack or appetizer in Spanish, so a meal of “tapas” is a collection of small dishes.) That lump of kielbasa? Slice it thin and stack it next to some little pickles and mustard. I feel sorry for that sad-looking rice from a few nights ago until I warm it through with a little salsa and olive oil and put it in a cute dish on the tapas table. From leftover bacon and breakfast sausages to the tail ends of cheeses and cracker bags—put it all out on the table for a fun, snack-y dinner. I freshen everything up with some sliced apples, pears, or grapes, and might slice some cucumber and peppers for dipping in hummus or tucking into little impromptu sandwiches made with baguette slices and cold cuts. My kids are delighted to be offered “spritzers” to drink, so let’s toast to cleaning out the fridge!

30 mins



There’s no ingredient list for Tapas Night—you do you! But here are some ideas for adding variety, flavor and color to your tapas table:

  • Sliced baguette, crackers, chips, pita bread or warmed tortillas
  • Little bowls of olives, pickles, roasted red peppers
  • Mustard, roasted red pepper sauce, spicy mayo, fruit jam
  • Salami, cooked meat or fish, cold cuts, cubed sausages
  • Hard boiled eggs, egg salad or deviled eggs
  • Nuts and seeds are perfect!
  • Sliced red peppers, cucumbers, jicama, and celery
  • Sliced pears, apples, citrus and grapes are good, too!

And to add an optional spinach dip, rice, or frittata dish, here’s what you’ll need:

For Cheesy Spinach Dip:

  • 1/4 cream cheese (substitute a dollop of mayo or sour cream)
  • 1/4 cheddar, mozzarella, or other stringy cheese
  • 1 cup chopped spinach (substitute other greens if you want)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Quick “Spanish” Rice:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Diced bell peppers if you have them
  • 3-4 cups cooked rice
  • Greens, meats (like leftover chicken or bacon), and beans are optional additions

For Spanish Frittata:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • Meat, greens, or other veggies are optional additions


For Tapas Night, I like to offer something substantial like this cheesy dip or a delicious rice dish or frittata filled with veggies, cheese, and potatoes. All the other odds and ends from the fridge round out the meal.

Cheesy Spinach Dip​:

Add 1⁄4 cup cream cheese, a dollop of mayo, or sour cream and a 1⁄4 cup cheddar, mozzarella or other stringy cheese. Add in a cup of chopped spinach or other greens and stir it all together. Season with a little salt and pepper and a minced clove of garlic and bake in an ovenproof dish at 400 for about 20 minutes, until bubbling. Serve with baguette slices, crackers or sliced peppers.

Quick “Spanish” Rice:

Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add about 1⁄2 cup diced onion, a handful of diced bell peppers, if you have them, and a minced clove of garlic to a skillet and sauté until soft. You can add in leftover greens, chicken, sausage, bacon or beans along with 3-4 cups of leftover cooked rice. Sauté everything until browning and warmed through. Add in 1⁄2 cup of your favorite salsa and sauté another few minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Spanish Frittata​:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together 6 eggs, 1⁄4 cup cream or milk, 1 teaspoon salt, pinch of pepper and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet and sauté 1 cup of thinly sliced. potatoes for about 4 minutes. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 2 cups of spinach and sauté another 4 minutes. Spread evenly in the pan and top with a cup of shredded cheese. Then pour egg mixture evenly over the veggies and potatoes. Move skillet to the oven and cook for another 8-10 minutes until eggs are set. You can add just about any veggies to this dish! Or add any meat, too. It all adds flavor.



  • Help you clean out the fridge! Encourage them to be creative.
  • Put things into little bowls and cups. Have fun with the display.
  • Peel and chop fruits and veggies


  • Manage the cooking and reheating
  • Slice cheese and meats and anything else hard to cut up
  • Encourage interesting flavor combinations. Ham, pretzel, apple sandwich!
A photo of Cheryl.

Cheryl Knecht Muñoz

Cheryl is the Founder and Owner of Sugar Beet Schoolhouse, a cooking school for kids and their families in River Forest, IL. As a chef, instructor, and working mom, she is passionate about growing, cooking, and sharing good food together.



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(Shout-out to the grocery store restockers!)