Spanish Meatballs with Roasted Vegetable Sauce

By Ingrid Gangestad

Spanish Meatballs with Roasted Vegetable Sauce

Cumin-kissed meatballs served with a triple-pepper sauce brings the sunny Mediterranean to your party. Sauce and meatballs can be made ahead and refrigerated—just rewarm before serving.

  • Yield: About 45 appetizers
  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Ready In: 45 minutes
  • Cook: 30 minutes
  • Course: Appetizer

All you need for this recipe and more...


Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 red jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
  • 5 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. Heat oven to 425°. Arrange peppers and garlic in single layer on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and stir or toss with hands until vegetables are coated in oil. Roast 20 minutes or until softened and browned. Let cool 5 minutes. 
  2. While vegetables are roasting, in large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on broiler pan. Turn oven to broil. Broil meatballs 4 to 5 inches from heat 10 minutes, turning once`, until browned and internal temperature reaches 160°F.
  3. In bowl of food processor, blend roasted vegetables with paprika, tomato paste, sugar, salt and lemon juice; add 1 to 2 teaspoons water for a slightly thinner sauce, if desired. Keep warm.
  4. Serve each meatball with about 1 teaspoon sauce, or place meatballs and sauce in serving dish.

Testing Notes: First test I browned meatballs on stove top in several batches. Not only was this a mess with spattering oil, but the meatballs didn’t get done. I tried finishing them off by baking them in the oven with the sauce, but that took over 20 minutes and grease started separating from the meatballs and sauce. The first test (no cumin in meatballs, onion not finely chopped, and sauce with lower temperature and time for roasting and no red jalapeno) was bland. Second test of broiling meatballs eliminates the need for added oil for browning and cooks the meatballs throughout in 10 minutes. The cumin added depth of flavor. The sauce had much greater roasted flavor and the jalapeno added spice. I used 1 teaspoon salt, but it could have been cut back to 3/4 teaspoon. I added lemon juice just to round out the flavor a bit more. 45 meatballs and 1 cup sauce.