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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Cocktail Meatballs Sweeten your Holiday Table
Photo: Liz Rueven

Cocktail Meatballs Sweeten your Holiday Table

This post was first published on The Nosher on 9/17/14

Liz Rueven

Albondigas, or meatballs, are a mainstay of Sephardic cuisine. They come in sizes ranging from golf balls to cherries and may be rolled into round or flattened shapes. Chopped onions, garlic, roasted eggplant, fresh spinach, chopped leek and grated carrots have been mixed into meatballs for centuries.

These ingredients served to season meat (or poultry) which was then fried or simmered in sauce. Moistened bread bound it all together and served as another way to make these delicious treats an economical choice.

When I learned that the southern Italians sometimes included currants and pignoli nuts in their meatballs, I was intrigued. Perhaps it’s my Galiciana roots but I liked the prospect of adding a little sweetness (and unexpected texture) to the meat mix. It seemed like a good jumping point for considering how to use honey in my meatballs for Rosh HaShanah.

My intention was to get this mix subtly sweet, with a nod to the symbolism of serving sweet foods to ensure a sweet New Year. I paired citrus with the fruity nectar to balance the sweetness and sparked the flavors with cracked pepper, cumin and turmeric. Tiny, moist currants and rich pignoli provide an unfamiliar twist. For guests who think that meatballs belong in tomato sauce, they will be surprised and delighted by the yin/yang of this mildly sweet and lemony simmer broth.

cocktail meatballs holiday rosh hashanah
Photo: Liz Rueven

Because these meatballs are quite small they are a bit of work. Set aside a couple of hours in order to get the task done. It will be time well spent. And you can check another dish off your ‘to do” list by making them in advance and freezing them.

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