Food For Thought — November 10, 2015 at 3:15 pm

A Spanish Meatball and Olive Recipe to Die For


I don’t know about you, but I love exploring and learning about different cultures. One of my favorites ways to do that, of course, is through food. Spain is one of my favorite countries to visit, so naturally, their food is also at the top of my list. Whenever I see the word ‘albondigas’ on a menu, my heart skips a beat, because Spanish meatballs really make my mouth water. What’s better, is that we have an awesome recipe that incorporates Olives from Spain into the mix, which contain the four basic flavors – acidity, saltiness, sweetness and bitterness, making for a great, hearty dish that will bring the flavors of Spain right to your home!.

Did you know that one serving of olives provides only 35 calories and 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat? That sounds great!


For saffron water:
1 pinch Spanish saffron threads, lightly crushed in the palm of your hand
¼ cup hot water

For meatballs:
1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef or lamb
1 small potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
¼ red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 tbs. flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For sauce:
3 tomatoes, seeded and grated
1 small red onion, grated
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. good quality extra virgin Spanish olive oil
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2-3 pinches hot Spanish paprika (or substitute ground cayenne pepper)
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup saffron water (recipe follows)
1 ½ cups green Olives from Spain, rinsed and drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Saffron water:

  1. Toast the saffron strands in a warm skillet over low heat for one minute. Crumble the toasted saffron strands into the ¼ cup hot water and set aside.


  1. Combine the potato, onion, red bell pepper and parsley in a food processor and process until very finely chopped, but not yet a paste.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the ground beef or lamb, cumin, egg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the meat mixture for at least 30 minutes or until ready to cook.
  3. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs, approximately 2 inches in diameter and set aside. The mixture should yield 12-16 meatballs.


  1. Prepare a 12-inch deep skillet (with lid) or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the grated onion, garlic, olive oil, saffron water, paprika, salt, ¾ cup of the parsley and hot water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently for about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add the meatballs one by one, to poach in the sauce and continue to cook, covered, for 15 minutes, gently shaking the pan to ensure even cooking.
  3. Add the green olives and continue cooking, covered, for 20-30 minutes longer until all the flavors are deep and melded together.
  4. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper. Garnish with the remaining ¼ cup parsley and serve piping hot straight from the pan.

Disclosure: I have been compensated for this article. My opinions are my own.

Twisted Talk: What’s your favorite type of cuisine to cook? Have you tried Spanish meatballs before? Discuss below!

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