As the weather grows colder, you will need some warm and comforting dinner ideas, and I have just the idea for you! My recipe for albondigas, also known as Spanish meatballs, will not only warm you up on a cold night, but they are so tasty, especially as they are served in a rich tomato sauce.
Albondigas are a classic tapas dish that originates from Spain, yet you can easily make them the main event for dinner. Bring the Mediterranean to the dinner table with my recipe for albondigas, full of fresh-flavored ingredients, transporting you to sunny Spain!
WHAT ARE ALBONDIGAS?
Albondigas are meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce that are enjoyed all across Spain, Mexico, and Latin America. You can make meatballs from beef, but many people enjoy them with pork, veal, or chicken. There is no consistent recipe for albondigas across these different nations. Much like all other recipes, everyone has a variation or a secret ingredient!
Apparently, albondigas come from the Middle East which is known for its cuisine of minced meats. Some Spanish dishes have an Islamic influence, especially as there was a Moorish invasion of the Iberian peninsula. You can spot this influence in Spanish dishes including paella – a literal mixture of two cultures through the rice, saffron, and seafood.
The Spanish serve albondigas as tapas – a leisurely evening snack of a few dishes, eaten with family and friends before dinner which is usually late at night. Tapas portions are small so you can try a little bit of everything without getting full!
However, as albondigas are delicious with rich and smokey tomato sauce, the dish perfects to recreate for a family dinner.
EASY ALBONDIGAS RECIPE WITH FRESH AND HEALTHY INGREDIENTS
Homemade meatballs can seem like a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re short on time, however, my albondigas recipe is so simple, you will want to make meatballs every night!
Plus, meatballs are always a hit with kids who will love to see a big dish of tomatoey meatballs on the dinner table. Little do they know that all the ingredients are fresh and healthy, and the smooth tomato sauce is homemade with fresh produce. It is so full of rich, smokey flavor from the griddled tomatoes, peppers, and onions that I could just eat it right off a spoon.
HOW DO I MAKE ALBONDIGAS?
To make albondigas, there are a few simple steps:
1. In a big bowl, mix together your meatball ingredients. These are:
- Minced beef
- Finely chopped onion
- Breadcrumbs – you can use dried or fresh
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- Minced garlic
- A little chili powder
- Salt and pepper
2. Scoop out a tablespoon of mixture and shape it into a small ball. Repeat with all the albondigas mixture.
3. Fry them until lightly browned all over.
To make the fresh homemade tomato sauce:
1. On a griddle pan, char some roughly chopped tomato, pepper, and onion.
2. Tip the cooked vegetables into a blender with garlic, vegetable stock, parsley, and tomato paste mixed with hot water. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour into a pan, add your little albondigas and cover with a lid. Cook for 25 minutes until your meatballs are cooked through.
It’s as easy as that!
CAN I MAKE THEM IN ADVANCE?
Yes, definitely. As albondigas are a common tapas dish at restaurants, chefs prepare them in advance so it’s easier to quickly serve customers each night. Preparing your albondigas in advance makes it a great meal to serve at a dinner party, or just on a busy evening.
If you’re reheating them, add a splash of water to the sauce so it isn’t too thick.
Fridge: You can store the cooked albondigas in the tomato sauce for two to three days in a sealed container in the fridge. You can also make the tomato sauce separately a few days in advance as it can wait in the fridge, or you can jar it to keep for longer.
Do not store the Albondigas after they have been partially cooked as bacteria can grow in the uncooked meat in the center.
Freezer: You can freeze raw meatballs or the final cooked albondigas in the tomato sauce for 3-4 months.
Enjoy a Spanish fiesta with my incredible recipe for albondigas – an easy dish for a tapas party or a family favorite for cold nights!
ALBONDIGAS RECIPE (SPANISH MEATBALLS)
FOR THE ALBONDIGAS:
- 1 pound Beef minced
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 1 Egg
- 4 tablespoons Breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons Parsley finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Chili powder
- 1 clove Garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 4 Tomatoes quartered
- 1 Red bell pepper quartered
- 1 Onion quartered
- 1 cup Vegetable broth
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons Parsley
- 1 tablespoon Tomato paste mixed with ¼ cup of lukewarm water
- Salt and pepper to season
TO MAKE THE ALBONDIGAS:
- Mix the minced beef, onion, egg, breadcrumbs, parsley, chili, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix everything using your hands until the ingredients form a compact well-combined mass.
- Take a tablespoon of meat mixture and roll it to a ball with your hands – it should make around 15 balls.
- Heat a pan with oil over medium heat and add the albondigas in batches to cook for around 8 minutes until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set them aside.
TO MAKE THE TOMATO SAUCE:
- Heat oil in a griddle pan, and add the roughly chopped bell pepper, tomatoes and onion, and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until soft, stirring everything constantly.
- Pour all the cooked vegetables into a blender with the garlic, fresh parsley, tomato puree liquid, and vegetable stock, and pulse until well combined.
- Transfer the sauce to a deep frying pan and cook for 10 minutes. Add all the meatballs, and cook covered with a lid for 25 more minutes.
- Sprinkle with some parsley before serving.