Almond sauce adds goodness to almost any ball of meat.

Meatballs in almond sauce

Even Claudia Roden is ambivalent about what meatballs to use with this wonderful sauce of fried almonds and garlic, based on a Catalan picada. “Veal was once the prodigious expensive partner, pork the plebeian one…but you can use one or the other meat alone,” she writes in The Food Of Spain, prefacing a recipe that includes both meats, egg, soaked bread and more. Trust us, it’s not the meatballs that matter—it’s this delicious sauce. Some of the goodness comes from almonds and (of course) garlic, but we think saffron, lemon zest and a bit of bread really make it come alive.

We recently made a batch to round out some tapas we were making, but while we enjoyed our potatoes and bit of salad, the almond sauce really stole the show. We used some of our Italian-type polpetti from the freezer, which normally appear with Steve’s tomato sauce on top of pasta or pizza. Our Italian-esque mix worked wonderfully with the salsa con picada de almendras, and so did the baguette we used to sop up the rest of the almond sauce. We’re pretty sure Conor Bofin’s meatball recipe would work great, but if you have a favorite rounded ground meat, let us know about it. We’re itching to make this sauce again.

RECIPE NOTES:  We made Roden’s sauce recipe pretty much as written. We did, however, make the full amount of sauce even though we had a much smaller than called-for amount of meatballs. 


  1. Wow. I had never heard of almond sauce to go with meatballs before. It sounds delicious! I should try it some day (and maybe the meat-lover in this house will forgive our mostly meat-free diet of these past few weeks)

    • Good for you, Darya, with the almost meatless diet. It’s pretty easy to do amidst summer’s bounty, but I don’t know how folks make it through the winter. Do try the sauce, even if on some veg substitute for meatballs. It’s delicious!

  2. I would never think to use almonds in any form with meatballs but, then again, i don’t live in a climate where almond trees in bloom are a sign of Spring. This sounds wonderful and I fully intend to give it a go. Thanks.

  3. Michelle and Steve! Boulder library has an awesome cookbook section. I just picked up four of Claudia Roden’s, The Book of Jewish Food, Arabesque, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, and The Food of Spain. Thrilled. Amazing. I believe I have you to thank for turning me onto her highly erudite work. Thank you!

    • I’ve got all of those except The Book of Jewish Food, which I really should pick up one day. Her books are really, really good. Though it’s funny. When I first got the Spanish one I was sort of unimpressed. Boy, was I wrong!

  4. I love Claudia Roden! She’s in the pantheon, isn’t she. There’s this whole family of nut and stale bread sauces I’ve been meaning to try. Put like that, they don’t sound promising, but they come recommended by trustworthy people. It’s on the list!

  5. That comment above may have been the first time I’ve ever seen the word “erudite” used on a food blog. Sounds great, and a good excuse to try Conor’s meatballs! (I’m not sure I like the way that sounds…)

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