Meatballs & Tomato Sauce with Asparagus & Creamy Rice

Meatballs & Tomato Sauce

with Asparagus & Creamy Rice

50 MIN
2 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

Tonight's dish is a take on Spanish “albondigas,” or meatballs. We're using a few unique ingredients for signature Spanish flavor: golden raisins add pops of sweetness to the beef (also seasoned with bright, piquant garlic), while Castelvetrano olives elevate our tomato sauce with their buttery, briny notes. As a hearty, creamy base, we're combining brown rice with seasonal asparagus and fromage blanc, a type of fresh cheese.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    780 Cals (est.)
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fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the tough, woody stem ends of the asparagus; cut into 1-inch pieces, leaving the pointed tips intact. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Using the flat side of your knife, smash the olives; remove and discard the pits, then roughly chop. Quarter the lime. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves and stems.

Cook the rice:
2 Cook the rice:

In a small pot, combine the rice, a big pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook 20 to 32 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Set aside in a warm place.

Cook the asparagus:
3 Cook the asparagus:

While the rice cooks, in a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in a warm place. Wipe out the pan.

Form the meatballs:
4 Form the meatballs:

While the rice continues to cook, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, raisins, breadcrumbs, egg, and half the garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Gently mix until just combined. Using your hands, form the mixture into 10 to 12 equal-sized meatballs. Transfer to a plate.

Cook the meatballs & make the sauce:
5 Cook the meatballs & make the sauce:

While the rice continues to cook, in the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned. Add the olives and remaining garlic paste; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and spooning the sauce over the meatballs, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the meatballs are cooked through. (If the sauce seems dry, add up to 2 tablespoons of warm water to achieve your desired consistency.) Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finish the rice & plate your dish:
6 Finish the rice & plate your dish:

To the pot of cooked rice, add the cooked asparagus, fromage blanc, half the cilantro, and the juice of 2 lime wedges. (If the rice seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of water.) Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the finished rice and cooked meatballs and sauce between 2 dishes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and remaining lime wedges. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the tough, woody stem ends of the asparagus; cut into 1-inch pieces, leaving the pointed tips intact. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Using the flat side of your knife, smash the olives; remove and discard the pits, then roughly chop. Quarter the lime. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves and stems.

2 Cook the rice:

In a small pot, combine the rice, a big pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook 20 to 32 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Set aside in a warm place.

Cook the rice:
Cook the asparagus:
3 Cook the asparagus:

While the rice cooks, in a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in a warm place. Wipe out the pan.

4 Form the meatballs:

While the rice continues to cook, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, raisins, breadcrumbs, egg, and half the garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Gently mix until just combined. Using your hands, form the mixture into 10 to 12 equal-sized meatballs. Transfer to a plate.

Form the meatballs:
Cook the meatballs & make the sauce:
5 Cook the meatballs & make the sauce:

While the rice continues to cook, in the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned. Add the olives and remaining garlic paste; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and spooning the sauce over the meatballs, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the meatballs are cooked through. (If the sauce seems dry, add up to 2 tablespoons of warm water to achieve your desired consistency.) Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

6 Finish the rice & plate your dish:

To the pot of cooked rice, add the cooked asparagus, fromage blanc, half the cilantro, and the juice of 2 lime wedges. (If the rice seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of water.) Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the finished rice and cooked meatballs and sauce between 2 dishes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and remaining lime wedges. Enjoy!

Finish the rice & plate your dish:
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