Sweet Pepper Sauce Meatballs (video)
This past summer, I had the time of my life in Spain journeying on a culinary quest, or shall I say eating my way through Spain. I started my trip in Cadiz where I dropped my two teens at the language school for a four week Spanish language course and cultural immersion. For the first time in a very long time I was free to choose what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I met up with my friend from Dubai, Jemala, and started my feasting Journey in San Sebastian. The Basque cuisine has rightfully earned its prestigious spotlight globally. From it gourmet markets and pintxos, which is slices of bread served with various toppings, to 3 restaurants that have earned the three Michelin star, the highest award in food, its pristine reputation cannot be matched. The experience was divine and jubilant as we savored different tasting menus at Akelarre and Arzak, both a three Michelin star restaurant; an experience I shall share with you at another occasion. From there I parted to Barcelona for a week where I was instantly hooked to tapas, irresistible delicacies that come in small portions and considered an introduction to dinner or a dinner in itself. Tapas is usually consumed with country bread and wine, and this became my ritual in the late afternoon during my stay there. One specific tapa I found myself ordering very often was Albondigas, which is meatballs in tomato sauce. This is usually served in a terra-cotta plate with three to four balls in a generous amount of tomato sauce and country bread on the side. Each chef had his own secret recipe and maybe this was the hidden motive for ordering it over and over again; trying to decipher what was different between one recipe and the other. The next triangular quest took me to Saville, Huelva and Jerez then back to Saville. Of course, with that my culinary ritual continued. Throughout this Spanish culinary quest, I had indulged in tasting exquisite variations of meatballs. In this recipe, I am sharing with you my take on this simple dish. I find it an easy vessel to ensure my son, who is not a big fan of red peppers, consumes red peppers which are super healthy because of the high levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, high levels of vitamin C which boosts the immune system, low calories and anti- inflammatory benefits. As meatballs are loved by all it is easy to incorporate all sorts of veggies whether in the filling or the sauce.
For the meatballs:
500 grams beef, minced 95%lean
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. Himalayan salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup white bread, cubed into 1/4" thick cubes
4 tbsp. olive oil
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 big onion, sliced into wings
9 garlic cloves, minced
1 Kg. fresh tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
3 red bell peppers roughly chopped
2 tsp. Himalayan salt
1 tsp. paprika
3 tbsp. orange juice
1 cup green peas
In a bowl mix the beef, onion, salt, pepper, parsley and bread cubes together until all ingredients are incorporated.
Form into golf size balls and fry them in a skillet with olive oil turning over until all sides are browned and set aside.
To start the sauce, pour the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, salt and paprika and stir constantly for another 3 minute.
Add the tomatoes, red peppers and the orange juice, and cook on heat for 15 minutes until the peppers are soft.
Pour the sauce into a blender and blitz to a puree consistency, then pour back into the pot. Drop in the meatballs and cook on medium-low heat covered for a further 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked.
At this point add the peas, adjust the seasoning and let it cook for 4 minutes or until the peas are cooked.
Serve with rustic country bread.
You could use any kind of meat to produce this recipe to include chicken and turkey as a healthier option.
The meat balls can be grilled in the oven rather than fried for a lower calorie serving.
Add shredded veggies to the meatballs for the fussy child.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 954 Calories; 66g Fat (61.4% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 51g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 112mg Cholesterol; 1683mg Sodium.