Albondigas: Meatballs in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce

Continuing my celebration of all things Spanish, here’s my version of another traditional Spanish dish that’s frequently on tapas menus. If you serve a full portion, it’s a pretty hearty meal that can be made using beef, lamb or pork mince. I’ve used pork which came out wonderfully.

You can buy ready-made meatballs in a lot of supermarkets now, but I prefer to make them from scratch. I think they taste better and, even more, I love squishing all the ingredients together and rolling the perfect little balls. It doesn’t even take that long.

Grating the onion makes it easy to mix in and means you don’t have to cook it before, saving time and washing up. And finally, I like a slightly chunkier sauce, but if you want it smooth, once your sauce is cooked, simply blend it and reheat. You can make this dish well ahead so it’s great for guests as all the work will be done before they arrive. Enjoy!

A beautifully colourful, tasty dish

Serves 4

For the meatballs

500g minced pork

1 onion, grated

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

2 red peppers, finely chopped

700g fresh tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped

1 dried red chilli, crumbled

1 handful fresh, chopped parsley

200g fresh or frozen peas

To make the meatballs, combine the pork, grated onions, breadcrumbs and parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to mush all the ingredients together until they are thoroughly mixed. Wet your hands and shape into little balls about the size of an apricot. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to settle for about half an hour.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, onion and peppers and fry for about 15 minutes until the peppers are soft.

Add the tomatoes and crumble the chilli into the mixture and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to as low as possible and simmer lightly, uncovered for about 45 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Make sure you stir it regularly to ensure it is not sticking.

To fry the meatballs, add the olive oil to a frying pan and when it is hot, add the meatballs. Turn it down slightly so the meatballs aren’t frying too furiously. Cook until browned and then turn around until browned all over.

Gently add the meatballs into the sauce, spoon the sauce over, cover and simmer lightly for 15 minutes.

Add the peas and stir through gently. Simmer for about 10 minutes to heat through.

Serve in bowls with chopped fresh parsley scattered over. Add crusty bread on the side to mop up all the juices.

For more fabulous recipes using tomatoes visit

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