The Ellie's Real Good Food star shares her recipe for tapas-style meatballs

This football season, we’ve partnered with Taste of the NFL and their favorite tailgating experts to share great game-day recipes for an even greater cause. Join these chefs in raising awareness and funds for hunger relief across the country by taking the Kick Hunger Challenge with your favorite football team and making a donation to their local food bank. And be sure to check every Thursday for a new game day recipe from your favorite celebrity chefs. Here,Ellie Krieger of Ellie’s Real Good Food shares a recipe for her tapas-style meatballs.

A tapas bar with a bright red awning on the Upper West Side of Manhattan has become a favorite local spot for my husband, Thom, and me. One of the dishes we always get there is “albondigas,” little meatballs simmered in a garlicky, smoked paprika-infused tomato sauce. They are satisfying but tender and light.

They are the inspiration behind my version of this recipe, which I make with lean beef and homemade whole-grain bread crumbs. With some bread they are a lovely supper, but they are also a fabulous game-day food that you can serve to guests with a toothpick. They are also an easy make-ahead dish that you can make before the game to save time in the kitchen. I am always glad to have some in my freezer to thaw quickly and serve to pop-in guests.


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Tapas-Style Meatballs
Serves 8

1 small slice whole-grain sandwich bread
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
1 large onion, finely diced, divided
6 cloves garlic, finely minced, divided
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tsp. smoked paprika, divided
1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
½ tsp. pepper, divided
3 tbsp. olive oil
Three 8-oz. cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar

1. Place the bread in the small bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs form.

2. Transfer to a large bowl and add the beef, half the onion, half the garlic, the egg, egg white, parsley, 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and mix to combine. Form into small meatballs (about 1-inch in diameter).

3. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook, stirring, 1 additional minute. Add the tomato sauce, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon each paprika and salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer.

4. Gently add the meatballs and cook, uncovered, until cooked through and tender, 30 minutes.