Meatballs in Almond Sauce

Meatballs in Almond Sauce is a great party food served with little plates, or a substantial main course for six people. Taken from “Tapas” by Penelope Casas, the sauce of ground almonds in this dish creates a dense, flavorful coating, almost thick enough to eat with a fork.

According to Penelope, these meatballs come from Santa Maria del Paular, a hotel on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery. Guests are told to “respect the silence of the grounds” with this enclave being a welcome respite from the hectic world of Madrid, some 40 miles away. But you don’t have to travel to Spain to enjoy this wonderful Albondigas en Salsa de Alemendra tapa, just make them at home.

In the final step the sauce is supposed to thicken. Well that didn’t seem to be happening for me, I’m guessing it was because I used Spanish Marcona almonds (go figure), which tend to be a bit oilier than regular blanched almonds. So I removed the meatballs from the pot, added in some ground blanched almonds and boiled it for a few minutes to reduce the mixture. Luckily that worked and I slipped the meatballs back in.

The dish was our contribution to a party of eight about 25 minutes away. We placed them in an oven-safe serving dish wrapped with tinfoil, and gently reheated them upon arrival.


Meatballs in Almond Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 13 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 3/4 lb. ground veal
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 Tbsp. minced parsley
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 scallions, chopped


  1. Soak the bread crumbs in 1/4 cup of the white wine.
  2. Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and combine with the bread crumbs, meat, eggs, 3 tablespoons of parsley and the salt and pepper. Form into ping-pong sized balls.
  3. Heat the oil in a large shallow casserole. Sauté the meatballs until well browned on all sides. Remove to a warm platter.  (You may have to do this in several batches).
  4. Add the onion and carrots to the casserole and sauté until the onion is wilted (add more oil if necessary).
  5. Stir in the remaining cup of white wine and the other 10 cloves of garlic (halved if very large) and boil until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Meanwhile in a food processor grind the almonds as finely as possible.
  7. With the blade running, pour in the beef broth very gradually. When well-mixed, add this mixture to the casserole, bring to a boil and add the remaining parsley, peas, bay leaf, scallions and more salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Slip in the meatballs, gently mixing them around so they are coated with the sauce.  Cover and cook slowly for 45 minutes.

These may be prepared ahead and gently warmed before serving.

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