Spanish meatballs – gluten free, grain free, dairy free, clean and paleo friendly.
Happy Sunday morning to you!
I have a Spanish recipe for you today. It’s my Spanish meatballs with a delicious Romesco sauce. Perfect for a tapas inspired menu or you could turn it into a main meal.
A couple of months back I hosted my annual girl’s DVD night with a Spanish theme. I created a range of healthy tapas so the girls could pick and choose what they liked. I worked like a mad dog on different dishes and when the girls rolled up at 4 pm, I was unable to join them for pre dinner drinks and nibblies as I was stuck in the kitchen biting off more than I could chew. Note to self: Keep it simple, stupid.
Not sure why but I’ve only been to three Spanish restaurants in my life and each time I’ve been amazed at the incredible bombs of flavour bestowed upon my taste buds. Garlic is an essential ingredient in Spanish cooking and growing up in my Swiss household I experienced many dishes laced with lots of garlic.
I’ve used lamb mince but you can use beef if you wish. The hero of this dish however is the sauce which uses roasted capsicum, tomato, a nice hit of garlic plus roasted almonds and hazelnuts.
Known as Romesco sauce, hazelnuts are more commonly used although there are variations using just almonds or half almonds and half hazelnuts. I used half hazelnuts because I had them on hand plus it adds a bit of earthiness to the dish. Next time I may try it with just hazelnuts. Bread is traditionally used to thicken the sauce, however I have left it out and it’s fine without it.
There’s a little bit of prep work in the beginning but it’s worth it. Also, a handy tip for getting the most flavour out of the dish – make the sauce ahead of time so the ingredients have time to mingle with each other thus creating a fusion of flavour heaven. The sauce will keep for up to a week in the fridge. I made mine 3 days ahead of time however up to 24 hours ahead is fine as it’s delicious from the get go.
This Spanish meatballs dish can be converted to a main meal if you add some brown rice, quinoa, mashed potato or a big serving of salad and some gluten free bread. I used mine alongside grilled chicken skewers, garlic beans, Adobo rice, Spanish bean salad and cucumber salad so guests could help themselves.
Did you know?
One of the most wide held beliefs is that tapas originated when farmers used to eat small pieces of food with their wine to keep their energy up during the working day. In order to stop flies from landing in the wine, a piece of bread with meat or cheese was laid over the top of the wine jar like a lid. Tapas literally means “to cover” or “lid” in Spanish.
Traditional tapas are humble offerings consumed in Spanish taverns as a free accompaniment with alcohol. Usually designed to be salty and encourage thirst, thus creating more sales in alcohol. As it’s common to consume dinner anywhere between 9 and 11 pm, tapas are a perfect way to keep the locals going until dinner time.
That’s all from me this week.
Love, Tash x
* If you cant' find pre-roasted and skinned hazelnuts, you can dry roast them in a 180 degrees C oven for 10 minutes or until aromatic and skins starts to crack. (Keep an eye on them as they can quickly burn). Wrap hazelnuts in a tea towel, leave for 10 minutes then rub gently to remove skins. Otherwise, just use almonds only.
* To dry roast almonds, place in a tray and bake at 180 degrees C for 10 - 15 minutes or until browned (test one by removing from oven and cut in half. If inside is lightly browned, remove from oven immediately). Nuts can go from just right to burnt in under a minute so keep an eye on them.
- 2 med - large red capsicums
- 1 medium - large tomato
- 1/4 cup whole almonds, roasted *
- 1/4 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts *
- 4 cloves garlic cut in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used Spanish) + extra for frying
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fine pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked ground paprika
- 500 grams lamb mince
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
- 1/2 medium/large zucchini, blitzed in food processor (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 red Spanish onion, blitzed in food processor (or finely chopped)
- A generous sprinkling of flat leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Place capsicum halves cut side down on a baking paper lined tray. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes or until skin blisters and is shriveled and blackened.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with cling wrap for 10 - 15 minutes or until skin is loose. Once cool enough to handle, peel and discard skin.
- Meanwhile, cut a criss-cross slit in top of tomato and place in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 20 minutes. Drain and remove skin. Dice roughly.
- Blitz nuts in a food processor. Add remaining sauce ingredients and blitz again.
- Combine all ingredients and shape into balls. Cover and chill for 20 - 30 minutes.
- Fry in a well lubricated medium frying pan on medium high heat, turning very gently until browned all over. Alternatively, balls can be baked in a preheated 180 degree oven. Place balls on an oil lubricated tray and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Once cooked, combine with the sauce in a frying pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve with a scattering of flat leaf parsley.