Meatballs with Almond Sauce (Albóndigas con salsa de almendras)

Apr 29, 2017 | Entree, Recipe

So, I started a low FODMAP guide to Spain last week, which I’m really excited about, but considering I’m still not done (and may have decided halfway through to re-structure everything)… I figured I’d share a Spain-inspired recipe instead. Otherwise it’ll end up being weeks before I post anything!

Alright. This recipe is all about the sauce. While we were in Málaga, I was reading something on the internet about how almonds are a big thing in that part of the country, and they make an almond sauce that’s particular to that region. So the next day when we stopped in a cafe for a little pre-lunch (we’d had a long morning of sightseeing!) and I saw “albóndigas con salsa de almendras” on the menu I knew we had to get it! I literally had no idea what we’d be getting – would it be creamy? would there be pieces of almonds in it? what even is almond sauce? – but I figured it couldn’t be bad.

We were not disappointed. The sauce was tomato-based, with another flavor I couldn’t quite identify (turns out it’s roasted red pepper), and just a hint of almond taste. In short: delicious. Like any self-respecting food blogger, I decided then and there that I must recreate this.

When we got home (after we detoxed from potatoes, tomatoes, and jamón for a bit), I did some internet searching, and it turns out that this sauce has another name: romesco sauce. Which I’d actually heard of before, just never knew what it was. For some reason though, “Romesco Sauce” just sounded too official to Marc & I for the sort of accidental way we discovered it, and the laid-back atmosphere in Málaga. So we decided to name it “brava sauce,” after patatas bravas – literally “home fries” but in Spain they’re served with a tomato-based sauce. In Málaga it was always almond sauce, in other parts of the country it was minus the almonds. Considering we had patatas bravas pretty much every time we went out, it seemed fitting to name a sauce after them. (even if I did just copy the recipe from Bon Appetit – with a few changes though obviously! 😜)

Non-Spain-related tangent about sauce: I’ve been on a sauce kick lately. Since starting the low FODMAP diet and realizing which foods make me feel miserable, I’ve realized that I subconsciously developed aversions to some foods when I was younger. Bagels, for instance (so much wheat!). Tall glasses of milk (so much lactose!). And, sauces. Not only are restaurant and store-bought sauces full of questionable ingredients and waaaay too much sugar, but they’re also chock full of garlic and onions. I’ve pretty much cut out sauces for that past few years, but it turns out that gets boring after awhile! And listen, people: it’s super easy to make sauces at home, plus you’re in control of the ingredients that go in there. And, like with this almond sauce, they’re addictively delicious. (I literally have to stop myself from eating this with a spoon).

I served this with meatballs and charred broccoli, since that’s the first way we had it (well minus the broccoli, the only vegetables I ate in Spain were potatoes), but you can put this on anything. I’ve even been known to smear it on sandwiches (and eat it with a spoon, obviously 😉). The other day we put it on chicken nuggets!

Meatballs with Almond Sauce | Go Messy or Go Hungry

Meatballs with Almond Sauce (Albóndigas con Salsa de Almendras)

Course Entree
Servings 2 people (sauce makes 1.5 cups)


Almond Sauce

  • ½ red bell pepper roasted
  • ½ cup slivered almonds (you can also use whole almonds but make sure they're blanched - without the skin)
  • ¼ cup tomato purée (or 2 tablespoons tomato paste + 2 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (I used 1 tablespoon each apple cider vinegar and dry vermouth)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, to taste)
  • ½ cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • ½ pound ground turkey, chicken, pork, beef
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: oregano, basil, paprika, etc.
  • Salt and pepper

Charred Broccoli

  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


Almond Sauce

  1. Roast the almonds: spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to 400F and put the almonds in the oven while it's heating. Remove after about 5 minutes, or until they're just lightly browned. (If you've bought almonds that are already toasted, skip this obviously.) 

  2. Roast the pepper: In the meantime, cut the pepper in half and place it on some foil on another baking sheet. Rub all over with olive oil. When the oven has reached 400 (you should have removed the almonds by this point!), put the pepper in and roast for 5-8 minutes or until soft. Remove the pepper and move the oven rack to the highest rack. Put the pepper back in and broil until the skin is charred and starting to come off the pepper. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool, peel skin off (it's ok if a little stays).

  3. Add almonds, pepper, tomato, oregano, vinegar, paprika, and cayenne to a blender or food processor until almonds are in very small pieces. Slowly add oil and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue adding oil and/or water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Taste again and adjust seasonings.

  4. Sauce will keep in the fridge for a week or two in a tightly sealed container.


  1. Turn oven back to 400F. Also heat an oven-safe skillet (we like cast iron around here) to medium to medium-high heat. Trim the broccoli into manageable sized pieces. Oil the skillet generously with olive oil; place broccoli in skillet cut side down and drizzle with more oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Let the broccoli get a head start in the skillet for a few minutes, then transfer to oven to roast for about 8 minutes (if you don't have an oven safe skillet, transfer to a baking sheet here. You'll probably need to cook for a little longer). Turn the broccoli over and roast for another 5-ish minutes, until tender and charred.


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Divide into meatballs. Heat a pan on medium heat and add oil. Cook meatballs for a few minutes on each side, turning regularly to get evenly toasty (I like to use chopsticks for this, but I realize that may be weird). 

  2. Serve meatballs and broccoli with a generous serving of almond sauce! Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Almond sauce inspired by Bon Appetit (and Spain). Charred broccoli courtesy of Lady and Pups.

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