I fell in love with Spanish tapas years before my trip to Spain.  My first taste was probably back in my Dallas days, with friends, on a Wednesday night, at Cafe Madrid.  We shared little plates of chorizo, olives, roasted peppers and much more.  Cafe Madrid served fantastic frozen Sangria to quench our first and lift our spirits.

Since then, I’ve tried tapas in every city I’ve visited and finally in Madrid when I went there with Olga and Radha to celebrate our birthday.

Tapas, as a concept has crossed over culinary borders to cuisines far beyond Spain.  And I welcome its sharing atmosphere!  I love passing the little plates, that most often than not, overcrowd the table, and keep on coming from the kitchen, perfectly hot, and ready.

I’ll be sharing several of the recipes from the Spanish Tapas class I have taught at Whole Foods Market. 

Let us begin with Spanish Pork Meatballs with Piquillo Sauce (Adapted from Whole Foods Market recipe)

Ingredients (for 20 meatballs)

1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 pound ground pork

Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot, diced
1 cup chopped piquillo pepper (Northern Spain pepper with rich, spicy-sweet flavor)
1 cup chicken broth
Salt & Pepper to taste
chopped parsley

Yes, the picture shows an onion, but I used shallots for both the meatballs and the sauce.


1. Combine egg, garlic, shallot, breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add pork and mix just until the mixture is uniform.  Do not overwork the meatball mixture unless you want heavy and tough meatballs.

2.  Take a little bit of the pork mixture and form into a thin patty.  Cook the patty in a pan and taste.  This is your chance to test for seasoning – add more salt and paprika if necessary.  Now that you are happy with the flavor, it’s time to form meatballs.  I recommend using a small ice cream scoop to make sure the meatballs are the same size so they cook evenly.  Plus, your hands will stay cleaner. 
3.  Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. When hot but not smoking, dust meatballs with flour and brown evenly on all sides. Use a pair of kitchen tongs to turn the meatballs. When evenly browned, remove the meatballs from the pan, drain, if necessary, and set aside.
4. Heat olive oil in another pan.  Add garlic, shallot, peppers and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add chicken broth and cook 10 minutes. Use a hand held stick blender to puree the sauce directly in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add meatballs to sauce and cook for 10 minutes, turning often until sauce thickens and meatballs are cooked through.  Garnish with parsley and serve!
Don’t forget to serve this with a few slices of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.  If you are looking for more heat, use a bit of cayenne pepper or hot paprika, instead of sweet paprika.
These meatballs would be great made with ground chicken or beef.  If using turkey, you might want to grate shallots to add more moisture to the turkey meat.