I lived in Barcelona for many years, and while tapas isn’t the traditional style of eating there, there are certainly no shortage of tapas restaurants. I quickly became addicted to albondigas, a very traditional Spanish tapas dish. When I moved away from Spain, I wanted to learn how to make them at home, so I had to come up with an authentic recipe.
These meatballs are usually served 3-4 in a dish, smothered with zesty tomato sauce, with plenty of bread on the side to sop it all up. They are perfect as an appetizer with some wine, but also can work great as a main course with some rice or other starch on the side. These things are so addictive, trust me—you will want to keep eating them, so be sure to make plenty.
Albondigas - Traditional Spanish Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic - chopped
- 1 cup parsley - chopped
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp salt - divided
- to taste pepper
- ⅓ cup bread crumbs
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese - grated
- 2, eggs - beaten
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup olive oil - separated
- 1 medium onion - finely chopped
- 8 tomatoes
- 2 tsp herbs de provence
- 1 tbsp sugar
for the meatballs:
- Put the meat in a large bowl and add the garlic, parsley, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Mix this together until combined.
- Add the beaten eggs and milk and mix together well.
- Dampen your hands slightly, and form the meat mixture into meatballs, about 1" in diameter.
- In a heavy bottomed frying pan, heat up about 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and cook the meatballs over medium-high heat, until browned on all sides. Remove the cooked meatballs to a paper-towel-lined plate and allow to drain.
for the sauce:
- Wipe out the frying pan that you used for the meatballs, then return it to heat and add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
- Add the onion, and cook until golden brown - about 5 minutes - then add the tomatoes. Cook together for about 2 minutes, then add 1 tsp of salt, some pepper, the herbs, and sugar.
- Stir together well and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the meatballs, cover, and let cook together for about 5 minutes longer.
- Serve 3-4 meatballs together in small dishes, with the sauce on the bottom.