Tuesday, August 16, 2011
CATALONIAN "MEATBALLS" IN SAFFRON AND ALMOND SAUCE (ALBÓNDIGAS EN SALSA DE ALMENDRA)
You can see color photos of many of the recipes in my newest book, World Vegan Feast, in this photo album. There are now twenty-seven 5-star reviews of "World Vegan Feast" on amazon.com.
A couple of weeks ago I started experimenting with veganizing some Spanish recipes-- beginning what will be an ongoing exploration of a neglected part of my culinary heritage. My first experiment was a Spanish meatball recipe-- well, Catalonian, actually. I had just about everything I needed to make it and it sounded delicious-- I love just about anything with wine and lemon zest! It utilizes a traditional Catalonian sauce component-- the "picada", which consists of bread, almonds, garlic and sometimes parsley and other seasonings. This cooking technique and the ingredients go all the way back to the Moorish occupation of Spain, from 711 to 1492. The words "albóndiga" (meatball) and "almendra" (almond) derive from Moorish words as do most, if not all, Spanish words beginning in Al, such as Alhambra.
This is interesting to me for various reasons-- one being that my father, who was half Spanish, looked quite Arabic, so much so that I'm sure his family had some Moorish blood dating back to those times. Maybe that's why I love Middle Eastern food and music so much!
My late father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina, shortly before he passed away-- still handsome!
This is what I came up with, slightly streamlined, and very delicious it was with homemade crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce, and fresh green beans with tomato and garlic! (It is sometimes served with fried potatoes.) I still want to tinker with it a bit, but it's certainly worth sharing even in this early form.
BRYANNA'S CATALONIAN "MEATBALLS" IN SAFFRON AND ALMOND SAUCE, VEGAN-STYLE (ALBÓNDIGAS EN SALSA DE ALMENDRA)
25 vegan "meatballs" (I used my homemade vegan "Neatballs", but Nate's or Trader Joe's meatless "meatballs", or ones made from Lightlife "Gimme Lean" or Match "ground beef" alternative could be used instead -- I can't get any of these where I live.)
unbleached white flour
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegan "chicken" broth (I used Better than Bouillon "No-Chicken" base)
1 cup fruity dry white wine (dry reisling, Chablis, Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and many others)
a pinch of Spanish saffron
grated zest of 1 organic lemon
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or dry white breadcrumbs
1/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
(some people add a bit of chopped parsley)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Sweet Spanish paprika (I used smoked sweet pimenton)
Roll the "meatballs" lightly in flour and brown them in a 12" nonstick skillet with the 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until crusty on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet and pour in the broth and wine; bring it to a boil. Add the saffron, lemon zest, and sugar, whisking. Add the "meatballs" and remove from the heat.
In a smaller (8-9") skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the other "Picada" ingredients-- the breadcrumbs, almonds and garlic. Stir the mixture until it begins to turn golden, then take off the heat.
Browned "meatballs" and picada ingredients.
Grind the "picada" ingredients to a paste in a food processor and add it to the pan with the broth and "meatballs" and stir gently as it comes to a simmer. Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the sauce is too thick for your taste, add a little water. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve the "albondigas" (meatballs in Spanish) with the sauce, sprinkled with the pimenton.
Nutrition (per serving): 363.2 calories; 30% calories from fat; 12.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 506.6mg sodium; 181.2mg potassium; 26.3g carbohydrates; 1.4g fiber; 3.9g sugar; 24.9g net carbs; 29.6g protein; 8.0 points.