seamus mullen grilled lamb skewers

Chef Seamus Mullen’s Favorite Tapas Recipes

Food Network star chef Seamus Mullen was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis several years ago. Here he shares a few of his favorite tapas recipes.


Entertaining won’t be a chore if tapas are on the menu. Tapas are small snacks or appetizers. Because they don’t take a lot of skill or effort to whip up, tapas are ideal for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), says celebrity chef Seamus Mullen, who has appeared on a variety of Food Network shows and was also the executive chef and partner at two trendy New York City restaurants, including Boqueria.

The prep work for tapas is sometimes as simple as opening a can of tuna. What’s more, you can prepare tapas in advance, or guests can pitch in.

“Tapas are about being social,” says Mullen, who was diagnosed with RA several years ago and is working on a cookbook about inflammation-fighting foods. “The whole tradition of tapas is to go from one bar to the next, grazing on little bites of food while you socialize.”

Here are a few of his favorite tapas recipes.

Pan con Tomate (traditional Spanish bread)

1 baguette, halved lengthwise and cut into 4-inch pieces
2 beefsteak tomatoes, halved through the center
1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Toast the bread and rub with the cut side of the garlic clove. Then rub with 1/2 half cut tomato to cover. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.

Marinated Cheese

1 pound hard Italian cheese, such as Manchego, Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
2 dried guindilla peppers (substitute 1 tsp. red pepper flakes if guindilla are unavailable)

Mix all ingredients together. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with toothpicks.

Marinated Lamb Skewers

1/2 pound lamb top-round, cleaned and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 cup packed chopped herbs (mint, chives, parsley)
1 pinch saffron
1 Tbsp. toasted coriander, ground
1 Tbsp. toasted fennel seed, ground
1 Tbsp. toasted black cumin seed, ground
1 Tbsp. toasted mustard seed, ground
1 Tbsp. guindilla pepper, ground (1 Tbs. red pepper flakes can be substituted)
4 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Skewer the lamb cubes on 6-inch bamboo skewers. Combine all other ingredients, pour over the skewers and marinate them overnight. Preheat a sauté pan or grill over medium-high heat, and cook two minutes per side, or until desired doneness.

Tuna Finger Sandwich with Black Olives and Egg

1 loaf of sourdough Pullman bread
1 can tuna
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
1 Tbsp. diced shallots
1 Tbsp. capers or chopped caper berries
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped black olives
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Salt to taste 
Pepper to taste 
2 eggs, ideally free-range, cooked for 6 minutes in simmering water
1/2 pickled guindilla peppers

Slice the loaf into thin slices. Combine all other ingredients except eggs and guindilla peppers. Distribute the tuna mixture evenly on the slices of bread, and layer with slices of hard cooked egg and the guindilla peppers. Cover with the remaining bread and cut each sandwich into quarters.

Shrimp Skewers with Garlic and Guindilla Pepper

3 oz. fresh rock shrimp
2 dried guindilla peppers (substitute 1 tsp. red pepper flakes if guindillas are unavailable)
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil

Skewer shrimp on four 6-inch bamboo skewers. Combined the remaining ingredients, pour over the skewers and marinate them overnight. Season with salt and pepper, and sear in a hot pan.