Meet your new favorite meatball recipe (and tips for roasting your own garlic)

Cafe Sevilla’s albondigas
Cafe Sevilla’s albondigas (meatballs).
(Los Angeles Times)

Meatballs are perfect in that comfort food sort of way. Kind of like miniature meatloaves you can enjoy in almost any way — stuffed in a sandwich, with pasta, in soups — or simply on their own.

Of course, you can get great meatballs at a variety of places, but there’s nothing like homemade. And there’s nothing like this recipe. Roasted garlic, fresh basil and cilantro, oregano and Spanish paprika lend rich flavor to these tender pork-and-beef meatballs. But adding Manchego cheese to the mix takes these meatballs to another level. Go ahead and make a double batch — they’ll disappear quickly.

KITCHEN PRO TIP: If you’ve never roasted a head of garlic at home, you don’t know what you’re missing. The process is incredibly simple. Lop off the pointy end, season with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil, and bake in foil until tender. Use it to make these meatballs, flavor potatoes, breads, soups — anything, really — or simply spread some roasted garlic on a slice of crusty bread for a small taste of heaven. Check out this video for a quick demonstration:

Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter shows how easy it is to roast garlic. 


Total time: 50 minutes | Serves 10 to 12

Note: Adapted from Cafe Sevilla in Riverside. To roast garlic, cut off the pointy top of a head of garlic to expose the tips of the cloves. Place the garlic on a small sheet of foil, cut end facing up. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cut end of the garlic head, and sprinkle a pinch each of salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic head in the foil and roast in the oven at 325 degrees until the cloves have softened, about an hour.

2 tablespoons olive oil


2 cups minced onion, from about 1 large onion

4 ounces roasted garlic, puréed (about 1/3 cup), see Note

About 1/2 cup (3/4 ounce) chopped fresh basil leaves

About 1/2 cup (3/4 ounce) chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon Spanish paprika

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


2 eggs

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef

1 cup grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese

Chopped parsley, for serving

1. In a sauté pan heated over medium heat, combine the olive oil and onions, cooking the onions until they soften and become translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and place the onions in a large mixing bowl.

2. To the bowl, add the roasted garlic, basil, cilantro, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Set the mixture aside until the onion has cooled to room temperature.


3. To the cooled onion mixture, stir in the eggs and bread crumbs, then the ground pork, beef and cheese, mixing with your hands until uniform and fully combined.

4. Divide the mixture into 36 meatballs, each about one-fourth cup. The meatballs may be covered and refrigerated at this point up to 3 days before cooking.

5. To cook the meatballs, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the meatballs out onto foil- or parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them an inch or so apart for even cooking.

6. Cook the meatballs until firm and golden and a thermometer inserted reaches 165 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through cooking for even heating and coloring. Serve garnished with parsley.

Each of 12 servings: Calories 284; Protein 19 grams; Carbohydrates 13 grams; Fiber 2 grams; Fat 17 grams; Saturated fat 7 grams; Cholesterol 86 mg; Sugar 2 grams; Sodium 480 mg.

Love cooking as much as I do? Follow me @noellecarter


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