Albondigas No Te Dije? (Meatballs didn’t I tell you?)

Like many Californian students I studied Spanish in high school.  Certain nonsensical phrases stick in my head like “The brunette is a friend of my sister’s”, “My record play is broken,” and “Meatballs didn’t I tell you”.  My Spanish has improved a bit over time but I can still make Hispanics roll with laughter when I string all those phrases together. I’m sure I sound like una gringa loca.  This piece of useless information is just a prelude to my next tapas (appetizers) post.

Albondigas tapas are little bite-sized meatballs.  I serve them in a tomato sauce and accompany them with a hot crusty loaf of bread.  Albondigas aren’t difficult to make however there are a few steps.  You can make and freeze the meatballs cooked or uncooked for later.  They are terrific the first day but even better the second. 

Albondigas (meatballs) in tomato sauce


1 lb ground beef

1 egg

4 garlic cloves, crushed

½ teaspoon cumin

2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1 cup of flour

1 onion, chopped  finely

2 bay leaves

1 tsp of salt

Virgin olive oil


In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then add the meat, mixing well. Add the crushed garlic, the salt, cumin, and the parsley, mixing with a fork until the mixture is well coated with the egg.

Use a spoon to take out enough mixture to make a quarter sized meatball and lightly press it with your hands. Leave the edges rough to capture juices and sauce. Continue making meatballs until finished. Coat each meatball by rolling in flour.

Use a small, deep saucepan and fill with olive oil to about half the depth of the meatballs. Heat the oil and when it is hot, add as many meatballs as you can without letting them touch each other or the sides. Brown lightly for 1-2 minutes on each side. Place in a casserole dish or in individual casserole dishes. It is best if they do not touch the sides of the dish.

 Tomato Sauce

8 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 lbs ripe tomatoes chopped
1 teaspoon of sugar
freshly ground black pepper

Optional: ½ cup wine

To make the sauce heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry until it starts to become golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook them for about 10 minutes .   Add wine if you desire. Add the salt, pepper and sugar and cook for  5 minutes.  Remove the mix from the heat and use food processor or blender to gently blend sauce. Leave some chunks.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs, place the casserole dish in 350 degree oven. Cook for 12 minutes.  Serve immediately.


About Shawn Phillips

As someone who has relocated several times – buying and selling houses of my own for personal and investment purposes – I can easily put myself in my clients’ shoes. I know what I needed from my Realtors and I attempt to provide that or better for my clients. My family relocated to Charleston six years ago and my love for the city and the lifestyle is one I enjoy sharing with others. Prior to entering real estate in the Low Country I was a hospital administrator for many years in Charleston and New York City and was a Realtor in Sarasota, Florida. Leveraging my experience, I pride myself in providing outstanding client service, availability, personal touches, multi-faceted marketing, and skilled negotiations. The level of trust given to me by a client is the greatest compliment I receive as a professional. It is the foundation of my practice. My dedication to each and every client is evident before, during, and after the sale!
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3 Responses to Albondigas No Te Dije? (Meatballs didn’t I tell you?)

  1. Ginger says:

    Hi Shawn. I loved this. I will make these soon…maybe tonight! I was thinking about Spanish class…I cannot remember the teachers name. He was small and nice. I met him a few years later at the Branigans. He and Mr. Branigan were friends. My brother made a game for the Spanish classes as a junior in 1962 that teacher carried on for years…It was an early slot machine type and when rolled, it would electrically stop on a word and we all called out the answer.Do you remember if he used it or if you ever saw it? I laugh now because my brother wrote a book called How to win at the slots, in the early 1970’s. He was so bright and became an eletronics engineer. One night on a trip to Las Vegas he was sleeping and there was a knock on the door. The manager of the hotel asked him to come downstairs. His wife had just won a slot jackpot….$400,000 on a nickle slot. He said, No one wins on nickle slots. I carried that book of his with me everytime I went to Las Vegas after that. Thanks for triggering my memories. Glad to have met you here. Off to store to buy ingredients! ginger

    • rodney strom says:

      A mi me gusta las albondigas. (si,menos mal que hay aroz) I had that class also in Houston tx ALM spanish level 1 1963

  2. Brad says:

    I hit your page by a search on the albondigas phrase, which I believe was the first thing in that Spanish book, and thus especially memorable. My struggles with practicing the pronunciation at home, made the phrase a family joke for years. I had it in 6th grade, around 1964-5.

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