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Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Vegetarian Albóndigas (Spanish Chickpea Balls)

[1]This recipe clearly is a clear reflection of the period of Islamic rule in Spain during the 6th century and how it influenced the cuisine in the area. Albóndigas, or Spanish meatballs, are often flavored with a variety of aromatic spices and flavors and most often include garlic, mint, onions, oregano, cayenne, paprika, cumin and mint.

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Holy smokes these were good. One little “meat”ball was a perfect little bite of spice and flavor. Nutmeg, cayenne, cumin, and even lemon zest in this recipe pack an awesome and unique punch. Look, I know I have a readership of omnivores. Trust me, there’s no need to go out and find lamb and pork and whatever. I guarantee you won’t be missing the meat after making and eating these. Heck, I’ll do you one better, don’t use egg, make them vegan. I made them that way and we didn’t miss a thing. Just add a little more olive oil to help the mixture stick. These albóndigas are an excellent addition to your tapas spread, or just load up some rice and albóndigas on your plate and dig in.

Spanish Chickpea Balls – Vegetarian Albóndigas
via Top Chef Blog Spain [7]

Mince the chickpeas in a food processor or by hand until soft, make sure to retain texture, do not process or mash them to a pulp, you want to still be able to see small chunks of chickpea.

In a large bowl combine the minced chickpeas with the garlic, lemon zest, bread crumbs, spices and egg if using; use your hands bring the mixture together adding the olive oil a little at a time until the mixture starts to come together to form a mass. Depending on the chickpeas you use the mixture may be a little dry, add a little lemon juice if you desire to get the right consistency.

Once the mixture is moist and combined roll tablespoons of mixture into balls. For best results refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes or so before frying.

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a good sized heavy based frypan. Over a medium heat cook the balls in two or three batches, tossing in the pan occasionally until golden all over. Set the cooked chickpea balls aside on paper towel.

To make the rich tomato sauce add 1 tbs of olive oil to the same pan; add the onion and cook over a medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, add the garlic and cook for a further minute.Add the wine and allow to simmer for about 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Let the sauce simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.

Add the cayenne and peas, stir to combine, add the chickpea balls and allow to gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly and flavors are rich and spicy. Remove from heat and toss through chopped herbs.

Serve the Spanish Chickpea Balls as a tapas or with Spanish Rice for a main meal. [8]