Sunday, January 19, 2014

#SundaySupper Virtual Tapas Party...Featuring Manchego-Stuffed Spanish Meatballs

This week, the #SundaySupper crew is having a virtual Tapas Party! Our hostess Constance from The Foodie Army Wife asked us to share our favorite small plates...aka tapas! The tapas concept originates in Spain, where friends and family gather in the late afternoon and evening to enjoy some wine and small plates of delectable goodies. It's a great concept, yes? Michael's maternal grandmother was born in Spain, so I was very eager to take part in this week's event! This event is perfect for my January Lighten Up theme, because the tapas are by their nature are portion controlled. All I had to do was make a few healthful substitutions for these Manchego-Stuffed Spanish Meatballs to fit this month's healthy eating criteria...but I promise you won't feel any sacrifice. These meatballs are full of flavor!

Michael gave me The Meatball Shop cookbook for our anniversary last month, and this is my spin on their The Spaniard meatball. This New York-based restaurant specializes in meatballs in a wide variety of creative's definitely on our must-try list for our next trip! Instead of using all ground pork as the original recipe suggests, I used 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef and 1/2 lb. of ground pork to shave fat and calories. The other major change I made was to place a cube of manchego cheese in the middle of each meatball rather than incorporate grated manchego into the meatball mixture. It's fun to cut into the meatballs and see a pocket of melty cheese inside! Finally, I added additional spices to my meatball mixture for flavor and color.

Manchego-Stuffed Spanish Meatballs
adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook
  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced or grated
  • 1 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (use less if you want your meatballs less spicy)
  • 1 tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1 tbs. chopped oregano
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice [NOTE: I used a cup of ready-to-use rice that I picked up at the grocery store]
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 16 1-inch cubes manchego cheese
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • Grated parmesan 
For the tomato sauce:
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbs. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400. Add the meatball ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Using a sturdy spoon or pristinely clean hands, mix until thoroughly combined. Roll into 16 balls roughly the size of a golfball. Make a well in each meatball. Insert a cube of manchego into the well and form the meatball around the cheese.
Step 2: Add the olive oil to an 8x8 square baking dish. Arrange the meatballs in four rows of four. They will touch in this grid fashion. Bake the meatballs until they are browned and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Some of my meatballs had some cheese ooze out...they taste just as great, but the presentation wasn't the same!
Step 3: While the meatballs cook, make the quick tomato sauce. Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add the onion and shallot. Cook until they are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, seasoning and parsley. Stir to combine and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and wine and give a good stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer the sauce for at least 30 minutes. By the time the meatballs are ready to serve, the sauce will be perfect!
Step 4: When the meatballs are cooked, drain off any grease from the pan. Let the meatballs cool at least 5 minutes before serving. To serve, place three meatballs on a plate. Top each with a spoon of the tomato sauce and sprinkle with a bit of grated parmesan. 
We absolutely loved these protein-packed little bites...Michael asked for seconds, which is always a good barometer for a new recipe. The flavor is meaty and robust from all the seasonings used, and I really liked the light texture that the cooked rice provided. The flavorful quick-cook tomato sauce worked great with the meatballs without overpowering them...and the little nuggets of melted cheese in the middle was fun and tasty. If you're short on time, feel free to use your favorite brand of jarred sauce instead -- I won't tell! I just couldn't resist: here's a bonus interior shot of a meatball showing the melty cheese...swoon!
These meatballs would be a fabulous addition to an upcoming Super Bowl menu...simply add a sturdy toothpick and arrange them on a platter. We had some of them for dinner, so I served them on a bed of saffron-flavored rice. They're very versatile, so I hope you'll give them a try soon. In the meantime, check out the other offerings at our #SundaySupper tapas table today.

Around the Table:
Stuffed Green Queen Olives with Garlic Infused Olive Oil from MarocMama
Cheesy, Tortellini Tapas & Spicy Bacon Ranch Dip from Daily Dish Recipes
Black-Eyed Pea Cowboy Caviar from Shockingly Delicious
Goan Beef Croquettes from Masala Herb
Giardiniera Salad from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Bacon Wrapped Calamari from Jane's Adventures in Dinner
Patatas Bravas from Supper for a Steal
Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Bites from The Foodie Army Wife
Agave Truffles from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Pear, Brie, and Honey Crostini from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Tomato Bread from girlichef
Clams in Green Sauce (Almejas en Salsa Verde) from The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Roasted Tomato-Basil Flatbread from Take A Bite Out of Boca
Herb and Citrus Marinated Olives from Magnolia Days
Smoky Paprika Peppers from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Balsamic Raspberries with Mascarpone Cream from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Gambas al Ajillo from Manu's Menu
Squid in Garlic Chili Olive Oil from Food Lust People Love
Tortilla EspaƱola from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Croquetas de Pollo from Cookin' Mimi
Low-Carb Salmon Croquettes from Yours And Mine Are Ours
Bruschetta Topping from What Smells So Good?
Herb Roasted Almonds from Curious Cuisiniere
Artichoke Heart and Manchego Spread on Fried Garlic Bread from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Tortillita de Camarones from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
Patatas A La Riojana (Rioja-Style Potato & Chorizo Stew) from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Gambas al Ajillo y Clementina (Shrimp with Garlic and Clementines) from FoodieTots
Tortillas De Papa y Atun (Tuna and Potatoes Tortilla) from Basic N Delicious
Pocky Cake Pops from
Chorizo Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon from I Run For Wine
Manchego-Stuffed Spanish Meatballs from The Weekend Gourmet
Roast Onions with Blue Cheese and Pine Nuts from Healthy. Delicious.
Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas from The Texan New Yorker
Blueberry and Lemon Yogurt Quesada from In The Kitchen With KP
Chorizo with Spicy Sweet Potato Tapas from Soni's Food
Chorizo and Manchego Toast Tapas from Family Foodie
Roasted Bone Marrow with Citrus Salad from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Mushroom Chevre Crostini from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas with Smoked Pimenton Aioli from My Other City By The Bay
Krab Filled Avocado Tapas from from Hot Momma's Kitchen Chaos
Polenta Crostini Bites with Caramelized Mushrooms: Cicchetti - A Venetian Tapas Tradition from La Bella Vita Cucina

And you know that you can’t have a party without some fabulous wine ~ at least you certainly can’t in my house. Martin Redmond is here to give you the perfect recommendations: Best Wines To Pair With Tapas from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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