Albondigas (Spanish meatballs) are a popular offering in tapas bars. They differ from Italian meatballs in their seasonings and smaller size—about an inch in diameter. Serve on toothpicks.
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground beef (80/20 lean-to-fat ratio)
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/3 cup chopped onions
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Crumbled pork rinds (chicharrones), as needed
- Grated Manchego and chopped cilantro, for serving
For the tomato sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped shallots
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 15 ounces tomato purée
- 3 ounces Spanish sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon pimentón
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the ground beef, ground pork, onion, minced garlic, the eggs, cilantro, pimentón, Manchego cheese, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, adding pork rind crumbs to firm up meatballs. (Start with 1/2 cup.)
Form into 24 small meatballs. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once. Set aside.
Make the sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add two garlic cloves and the red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the sherry, tomato purée, and salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
Return the cooked meatballs to the pan, baste with the sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes. Top with more cilantro and shaved Manchego, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve on a small plate.
Serves 4 to 6 as a tapa — Recipe from tasty-lowcarb.com
Though known colloquially as “Santa Barbara spot prawns,” these sweet, buttery-tasting Pacific-based crustaceans are harvested from San Diego to Alaska. If they’re not available at your local market, buy the best shrimp you can find, preferably wild-caught.
- 8 jumbo or extra-large head-on, shell-on shrimp, preferably Santa Barbara spot prawns or tiger shrimp
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 3 dried guindilla or other small red chiles
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dry Spanish sherry
- 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Prepare the shrimp by snipping off the legs with kitchen shears. Then carefully push the shells off the bodies. Separate the shrimp heads from the tails by using a sharp knife to cut off the heads with one-third-inch of the tails attached to keep the juices inside the heads.
Generously coat the bottom of a medium cazuela, terracotta pot, or Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add the garlic, sprinkle lightly with salt and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a sizzle, stirring occasionally, until the garlic chips start to dance and turn golden brown around the edges, about two minutes. Don’t let them burn. Transfer the garlic to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve.
Add the chiles to the hot oil and cook, turning, until a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the plate with the garlic.
Add the shrimp heads, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, turning occasionally, for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp tails, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, turning, for 15 seconds. Return the garlic and chiles to the pot and shake and swirl the pot so the garlic coats everything. Add the sherry and let the alcohol burn off, about one minute. Zest half of the lemon half directly into the pot, then stir in half of the parsley. When the shrimp become opaque and their juices emulsify with the oil into a sauce, remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice, and serve immediately.
Serves 2 and can be multiplied as desired — Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2019
Moist and satisfying, this cake can be made from ingredients you likely have on hand. Instead of making a glaze, you can simply brush the finished, cooled cake with olive oil. It’s great for breakfast, tea, or dessert. (We also like it with fresh berries and a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.)
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the glaze (optional):
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted, or more as needed
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orangejuice, or as needed
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan, springform pan, or bundt pan with baking spray with flour. If using one of the former pans, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. (If using a bundt pan, spray it well so that the cake releases easily after baking.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed for 30 seconds. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, beating until combined. Add the milk, beating until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low. Beat in the orange liqueur, if using, the orange zest, and the vanilla and almond extracts.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating until combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 33 minutes for the round cake pan or springform pan, and 50 to 60 minutes for a bundt pan. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Make the glaze, if using: Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and whisk until the glaze is smooth and coats the back of a spoon. Place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle with the glaze.
Store at room temperature wrapped loosely in foil or plastic wrap.
Serves 8 — Recipe adapted from bakefromscratch.com
Chef Katie Button, who trained with Spanish celebrity chef Ferran Adrià at his internationally acclaimed restaurant elBulli, later opened Cúrate Bar de Tapas in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. This original recipe featured rabbit, which is more popular in Spain than it is in the US. We like it made with chicken.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 7 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 pounds chicken leg quarters
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 dried New Mexican chile, stemmed and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
Make the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup salt with the brown sugar, peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in 2 cups of cold water, and let the mixture cool. Pour the brine into a large resealable plastic bag, add the chicken pieces, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 350°F. In a blender, blend the 5 remaining garlic cloves and bay leaf with the wine, vinegar, pimentón, cumin, chile, and 2 1/2 cups water until smooth. Drain the chicken pieces, pat dry with paper towels, and discard the brine.
In an 8-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning once, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Pour in the blended wine and spices and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook until the chicken is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pan to a rack, lift the chicken from the pan, and transfer it to a serving platter.
Place the pan over high heat and boil the braising liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve while hot.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from Saveur, February 2016