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Shared by Stella Hanan Cohen

Albondigas Di Karne Kon Tomato (Meatballs Poached in Tomato Sauce)

Yield: 6 servingsTime: 1 H 30 min

Albondigas Di Karne Kon Tomato (Meatballs Poached in Tomato Sauce)

Yield: 6 servingsTime: 1 H 30 min

Family Journey

SpainRhodes, GreeceMarmarise, Turkey
Élisabethville, Belgian Congo (present-day Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo)Salisbury, Rhodesia (present-day Harare, Zimbabwe)

In Stella’s cookbook, she explains that this recipe, albondigas di karne kon tomato, takes its name from Ladino and is derived from the Moorish Spanish term al bundo, meaning round. While the recipe, Stella believes, is virtually unchanged from the time the community lived in Spain, she sometimes adds cumin to it, a flavor Rhodeslis cooks adopted in Rhodes. To try this rendition, add one teaspoon ground cumin to the meatball mixture.

This recipe was shared by Stella Hanan Cohen. Read more about her family in "For His Bar Mitzvah, a Grandson Is Learning His Ancestors’ Recipes From Spain and Beyond" and try her recipe for Yaprakes De Oja De Parra Kon Avas (Stuffed Grape Leaves Stewed With White Beans).


For the meatballs

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 slices white bread, crusts removed, dampened in ½ cup water, squeezed and drained and torn into small pieces
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved and coarsely grated 
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, use leaves and tender stems
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 cups peeled, seeded and roughly chopped ripe fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tender celery stalks with leaves, cut in chunks or 4 fresh whole sage leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup beef broth (or hot water)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For dredging

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour

For serving

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, use leaves and tender stems
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, use leaves and tender stems
Main CoursesMeat


  • Step 1

    Prepare the meatballs: Mix the onion, egg, white bread, beef, tomato, parsley, dill, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl until combined well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Make the tomato sauce: Place the tomatoes, tomato paste, celery or sage, olive oil, broth or water, sugar, salt and pepper into a large, shallow, heavy-based pan over medium-high heat. Mix well and bring the tomato sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes on a simmer.

  • Step 3

    Transfer the meatball mixture from the refrigerator. Shape the meatballs with dampened hands into about 30 small meatballs, using about 1 teaspoon of the mixture for each meatball. Place the flour on a shallow plate. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, to coat lightly, patting off the excess. Drop the meatballs gently into the pan with the tomato sauce. When all the meatballs have been added, add enough hot water so that the sauce comes about halfway up the meatballs. Cover and continue to cook at a very low simmer over low heat, for 20 minutes, until the meatballs are tender and the sauce has thickened. Shake the pan from time to time to ensure the sauce evenly coats the meatballs and prevents them from sticking to the pan.

  • Step 4

    To serve: Sprinkle the meatballs with lemon juice and the fresh herbs. Serve hot