Albondigas – Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

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From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite…
I love Spanish food and don’t think it gets nearly the attention it deserves. I became interested in it while searching for recipes scaled to feed two people. My research led me into the world of tapa and a new way of eating. A tapas is not a specific type of food, and it is not, as I once believed, a starter course. Tapas is a style of eating that revolves around small dishes of something edible. Anything can be a tapa as long as the portion is small and it is served with a drink. The word “tapa” means lid or cover. Originally a slice of cheese or ham was served with a drink to cover it and keep away the flies. The more fanciful believe the custom can be traced to a kindly king, who couldn’t drink on an empty stomach. It’s said he issued a royal decree that demanded all his subjects have food with their drinks. While there was a time in Spain when tapa were free, that is no longer true. At any rate, I started to use tapa recipes for some of our meals and was really pleased at how well they worked. These tasty meatballs, served in a lovely tomato sauce, are from a recipe I’ve adapted for use at our dinner table. It’s a really simple recipe. Chances are you have all the ingredients you need to prepare it in your pantry and refrigerator. The original recipe called for meaty tomatoes. I use that method when heirloom tomatoes are readily available. The rest of the time I rely on a large can of plum tomatoes. A 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes is equivalent to 4 large tomatoes and its a great substitute. Use whole plum tomatoes. For reasons I don’t understand, diced tomatoes retain their shape and don’t cook down. This recipe is best with a pulpy tomato fondue. You can use any type of ground meat, but I think ground turkey produces dense meatballs that aren’t as pleasant as those made from beef and pork. This recipe is scaled to feed 2 people. It can be doubled. Here’s the recipe.

Albondigas Con Salsa De Tomatefrom the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Peptita Aris

1/2 pound ground beef
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt + salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper + pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large tomatoes, chopped or 1 (28-oz.) can plum tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons red or white wine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Pinch of sugar
Thyme or parsley for garnish


1) Place ground beef, green onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, egg yolk, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Shape into 12 equal sized meatballs.
2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute meatballs, turning several times, until brown, about 5 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes, wine, sugar and rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes until tomatoes are pulpy and meatballs cooked through. Sprinkle with thyme or parsley. Serve hot. Yellow rice is a lovely accompaniment. Yield: 2 servings.

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