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

August 29, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Snacks/Appetizers, Vegetarian Vuelta a España Print This Post Print This Post

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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

  • 15 oz chickpeas (cooked or canned)
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1/3 cup fine wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten (omit if vegan and substitute with extra olive oil)
  • for the sauce
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mined
  • 300g (10½ oz) ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup peas
  • ½ cup fresh parsley &/or coriander, roughly chopped

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.

2 Comments to “Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Vegetarian Albóndigas (Spanish Chickpea Balls)”


  1. I cooked this for the family last night and it was predictably delicious! We’ve been cycle-touring/camping Europe for the past 3 months and now we are in Italy in an apartment for the next month and for our first night here I wanted to cook something a little more complex than what we’ve managed in our camp cooker. The kids helped with most of it. The only changes I made to the above were I used MORE garlic and squeezed some lemon juice over at the end with the parsley – wished we had coriander.

    Keep the great recipes coming – it has been too easy to become predictable in our cooking whilst camping and eating veg.

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  2. Hey Damon, you’re trip sounds fabulous!

    The squeeze of lemon juice was a great idea to add a little citric balance to the albondigas. And, as far as I’m concerned, you can never use too much garlic. ;)

    Ironically, I’m out of town right now on a camping trip and have been cooking over a fire and with our camp cooker, too. Since you’re in one spot for a bit, I recommend checking out my chili recipe – http://www.megabeth.net/?p=791. It makes a lot for a family and you can just let it bubble on the stove while you’re doing other things. (I actually made this chili in a dutch oven over the campfire this weekend and it was so good and packs a lot of protein.)

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