Spanish Meatballs in Golden Saffron and Almond Sauce

IMG_1406 (1024x874)We are back from a week in Andalusia, southern Spain.  A week packed with touring, exploring, hiking and of course, food.  I made a bucket list of all the food-related items that were a must-see and must-eat while I was there and I fulfilled most of that list.  From  fruity Spanish olive oil and various tapas dishes to creme brulée for dessert.  I bought smoked paprika, a paella spice blend and local Spanish saffron to use at home.

I loved the tapas lunches — sharing platters with my husband and had an opportunity to experience many more dishes in this manner.  Tapas in Spain, mezze in the middle eastern countries to ‘small plates’ so popular now in North America.  All similar in the way that sharing is the fun way to dine.

We ordered our tapas lunch dishes from recommendations of our tour guide, Rob.  One of these tapas platters was a meatball dish in a golden sauce.  Sounds pretty exotic in Spanish:  Albóndigas en salsa de almendras y azafrán but in English these are meatballs in an almond and saffron sauce and just as delicious.

I adapted a  recipe,  Meatballs in almond, onion and saffron sauce and served it as a main dish to my family for dinner, along with grilled vegetables drizzled with reduced Spanish sherry (Pedro Ximenez) and a chickpea and spinach tapas dish that I will share with you in another post. Olives on the table as all our meals were served and I found some marinated mushrooms from Spain in my local supermarket.  A wonderful reminder of meals in Andalucia.IMG_1408

Spanish Meatballs with almond and saffron sauce

(adapted from Meatballs with almonds, onions and saffron sauce)

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
large pinch saffron threads
1½ tsp sweet paprika
1 cup white wine
2 ½ cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
⅓ cup ground almonds
⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 lb. ground beef (or any other ground meat or chicken)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, minced finely
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 egg, beaten

flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, as garnish

  1. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft but not brown. Add the saffron and paprika and stir for an 2 more minutes and then add the wine. Bring the wine to a simmer then cook for 5 minutes over medium until the wine has reduced slightly. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer then stir in the crumbs and ground almonds and season with salt and pepper.  The sauce will be a golden orange and smell fragrant from the saffron and paprika.
  2. For the meatballs, mix all the ingredients well and season with salt and pepper.  Make into small meatballs and place on a greased grill pan.  Under the broiler, roast the meatballs, turning occasionally until they are browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs into the sauce and gently stir to combine well. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the sauce to infuse.  Serve, with chopped parsley.

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