José Pizarro’s Moorish meatballs with spinach, pine nuts and spiced saffron yogurt recipe

Meatballs are one of my favourite things to cook. They’re a great way to play around with different flavours. This recipe is very quick, and really different to any meatball dishes I’ve made before. It’s perfect for a midweek supper or tapas evening.

moorish meatballs
Emma Lee


2 tbsp olive oil
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
300g beef mince
300g pork mince
2 fat garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp hot smoked pimentón de la Vera (see tip)
1 tsp sweet smoked pimentón de la Vera (see tip)
1 tsp ground cumin
Handful of chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
250g baby spinach
30g sultanas
30g pine nuts, toasted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread, to serve

300g Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
Pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tsp boiling water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small frying pan over a low heat and gently fry the shallot for 10 minutes until soft. Set aside and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together both types of mince, along with the garlic, cooled shallot, spices and chopped coriander leaves. Season well and shape into 16 walnut-sized balls.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry until they are golden, then transfer to the oven for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Remove to a warm plate and cover loosely with kitchen foil.
  4. Meanwhile, make the spiced saffron yogurt. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic and mint and season well, then stir in the saffron and its soaking water.
  5. Place the frying pan you used for the meatballs over a high heat and add the spinach and sultanas, along with a small splash of water. Mix together and allow the spinach to wilt and mingle with the cooking juices from the meatballs. Add the pine nuts, then return the meatballs and any resting juices to the pan and toss together.
  6. Divide the yogurt between four plates and top with the meatballs and spinach. Serve with crusty bread.

TIP You can buy hot and sweet varieties of pimentón de la Vera from Sainsbury’s and Alternatively use regular or smoked paprika.

Now buy the book

the Spanish home kitchen
Our recipes are taken from The Spanish Home Kitchen by José Pizarro, which will be published on 9 June by Hardie Grant, price £27. To order a copy for £22.95 until 19 June, go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free p&p on orders over £20.