Tapas, meze, appetizers, canapes, antipasti ... however you label them, these small bites are often the best part of a meal. Seriously, isn't it so much better sampling a variety of small dishes rather than taking 20-something bites of the same one?
I can't imagine a better place to enjoy tapas than Spain--I've been to authentic Spanish restaurants here in New York numerous times but I long to taste the "real" thing in a rustic tapas bar in beautiful Barcelona. Being that a trip to Spain is not on the horizon (although a trip to Greece is looming--in fact I'll be leaving just one month from today), I love, love, love visiting Nuria's Spanish Recipes and submerging myself in the Spanish culture and cuisine which she so eloquently shares with her readers.
If you haven't heard, the latest ATOM event--hosted by Tony Tahhan of Olive Juice--is focusing on the Tapas of Spain and what better way to take a quick trip to lovely Spain than by cooking up your own tapas. So head on over to Nuria's site and get a taste of Spain; then head on over to your kitchen and put together some delectable tapas.
I put together these meatballs in a sweet and tangy apricot sauce for the ATOM event. They are amazingly flavorful little bites of minced pork and beef flavored with fresh herbs and served with a refreshingly simple sauce of apricots and yellow bell peppers. Try them, you won't be disappointed.
**Note: This was my second attempt at making these keftedes/meatballs. The first came about when I had one too many apricots laying around and decided to cook some meatballs in a fresh apricot sauce. But the fresh apricots added directly to some onion, garlic and fresh herbs and cooked until softened didn't impart the flavor I was looking for. They were actually much more tart than sweet and although my husband was left extremely satisfied with the dish, I was less than pleased. That's why with this second attempt I included apricot preserves, which you can very simply make by cooking down some fresh apricots with some sugar, water and a few drops of lemon juice. The sweetness from the preserves was a must for me and took the sauce/chutney to an entirely different level.
Keftedes me Saltsa Verikoko--Meatballs in an Apricot Sauce
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
For the Apricot Sauce:
2 yellow peppers, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of chili powder
1/2 cup apricot preserves (see **note above)
Olive oil, for sauteing and frying
In a food processor, combine one onion, 2 cloves garlic, the cilantro and the parsley and pulse until processed. In a large bowl combine the ground beef and pork with the onion mixture, the egg, the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the meat mixture into small balls and fry in the oil until browned well on each side.
Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a separate saute pan and add the chopped onions, celery and minced garlic. Stir in the yellow pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apricot preserves, cayenne pepper and chili powder and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes, adding some water to thin the sauce out if necessary. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.
When ready to serve, pour some of the sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with additional parsley or cilantro.