Recipe by Damon Lee Fowler, featuring

Salt Table Carmen Blend 

A terrific tapas (the Spanish “small bites” served in bars and sidewalk cafés), these are also a fine main dish and so easy to season using The Salt Table’s Carmen Blend. Serve in individual dishes or in a chafing dish, letting guests help themselves. As Carmen would say, “Prends garde à toi!”—they’re addictive!

(See Romesco Sauce Recipe below)

Serves 8-10


  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably chuck, or ½ pound ground beef and ½ pound lean ground pork
  • ½ medium yellow onion, trimmed, split lengthwise, peeled, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup soft breadcrumbs
  • 1 rounded tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • About 2 teaspoons The Salt Table Carmen Blend
  • Olive or vegetable oil, for frying
  • About 1 cup beef broth
  • Romesco Sauce Carmen (recipe follows)


How to make Spicy Meatballs with Carmen Blend

  1. Combine the meat, onion, crumbs, and parsley and season with Carmen Blend. To taste for seasoning, pinch off a small bit, shape it into a flat cake and cook it through in a small pan with a few drops of olive oil, about 2 minutes per side. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Wet your hands and lightly roll into 24 even balls, laying them on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Film the bottom of a large, seasoned iron skillet or nonstick pan with olive oil and turn on the heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add enough meatballs to fill the pan without crowding and brown them well on all sides. Transfer them to a platter and repeat with the remaining meatballs. Alternatively, you may brown them in the oven on a large, rimmed, non-stick baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425° F., rub the baking sheet with oil, and space the meatballs on it about an inch apart. Bake 10 minutes, then carefully turn the meatballs and bake 6-8 minute longer.
  3. Spoon off any excess fat and return the meatballs to the pan (if you’ve browned them in the oven, transfer them to large pan that will hold them in 1 layer. Add enough broth to almost half-cover them. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to a slow simmer, loosely cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. The liquid should reduce and mostly evaporated, but don’t let it dry up completely. Add water (not broth) by spoonfuls as needed.
  4. Remove the lid and if the liquid isn’t mostly evaporated, raise the heat and let it evaporate. Stir in the Romesco and let it warm through. Serve in small tapas dishes or bowls. They can be made ahead: transfer to a storage container, cover, and refrigerate. When ready to serve them, gently reheat in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  5. (See how to make Romesco Blend below)

Romesco Sauce with Carmen Blend:

There are many variations of Romesco sauce. This one is based on one of the Catalan versions. This can be a separate recipe and is a good dip for vegetables or sturdy corn chips.

Makes about 2½ cups


  • 1 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 medium red bell pepper or the equivalent of roasted red bell peppers from a jar, rinsed
  • 3 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • The Salt Table Carmen Blend
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

How to Make Spicy Meatballs with Carmen Blend:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until lightly colored at the center. Meanwhile, if using a fresh pepper, roast it over an open flame or in the oven at 400° F. until the skin blisters and blackens. Peel, seed, and cut it into uniform chunks.
  2. Process the almonds in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until finely ground. Add the roasted pepper, garlic, and tomato paste, and process until puréed. Add the vinegar and a generous teaspoon of Carmen Blend. Process until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust the Carmen Blend and pulse to blend. The sauce can be made ahead. It will keep, covered