Meatballs with peas and cuttlefish

My mom did these meatballs with peas and cuttlefish when I was in Spain this summer. It is a typical “surf and turf” from the area where I grew up. She got the recipe from the book “La cuina de la meva mare” (My mother’s cooking) from Joan Roca. Joan Roca and his two brothers run El Celler de Can Roca, a three-star Michelin restaurant, which was twice ranked number 1 in the world by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And “El Celler”, as we call it, is in Girona-my hometown! It is an amazing restaurant worth a separate post because, you guessed it, I had the privilege to go this summer!!

The Roca’s parents run a small low-key menu-style restaurant a few blocks up the street from the acclaimed Michelin star restaurant of their sons. The mom is the cook and the dad takes care of the bar and the dining room. They prepare typical Catalan dishes and some of them are compiled in this book.

close up of a big pan with meatballs with cuttlefish and peas

Meatballs are always a comforting food, but this recipe takes them to a different level. The cuttlefish and the peas combine to perfection with these meatballs. Because in the US is hard to find cuttlefish it can be replaced for calamari, and if you are not fond of ground pork you can also use ground beef, or a mixture of both.

meatballs with cuttlefish and peas in a plate from above with a fork

This dish incorporates another technique, to give it a name…, present in many Catalan stews: the “picada”. It is a kind of sauce that is used to thicken and blend juices in a stew. Its main ingredients are toasted almonds, dry bread (fried or toasted) and some liquid (usually the cooking juice). Then there are many add-ons, being garlic, parsley, cooked chicken or rabbit liver and spices, the most common ones. It is prepared in a mortar where all the ingredients are crushed and blended, and it is usually added at the end of the cooking process. You can go without it, but it sure gives your dish a nice touch to it!

meatballs with cuttlefish and peas in a plate from above

Accompany it with a salad and you have a great dish to impress those friends that came over for dinner!!

meatball with peas close up
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close up of a big pan with meatballs with cuttlefish and peas

Meatballs with peas and cuttlefish

  • Author: Carla
  • Prep Time: 40
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Catalan


Delicious pork meatballs with cuttlefish and peas. Totally worth a try!


  • 1 lb cuttlefish
  • 1lb ground pork
  • ½ lb peas
  • 1 handful roasted almonds
  • 2 slices white bread (1 fried or toasted)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 15 oz (1 can) tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp dry white wine
  • Parsley
  • Flour
  • Water or fish stock
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Prepare the ingredients for the meatballs: soak the bread (only the center part, not the crust) with water and once soft eliminate the excess water. Cut the legs of the cuttlefish in small pieces. Chop 2 cloves of garlic and 2-3 stems of parsley.
  2. Make the meatballs: mix the ground pork, egg, salt black pepper, legs of the cuttlefish, soaked bread, garlic and parsley, and make small round balls.
  3. Dust with flour, fry the meatballs in a pan with a bit of olive oil and reserve.
  4. Dice the cuttlefish in 1-inch cubes aprox and cook it in a covered pan with some olive oil.
  5. In a big everyday pan prepare a sofregit with the onion and tomato: chop the onion and cook it at low-medium heat until it turns dark brown. Then add the tomato sauce and let cook for 10-15 minutes until it has reached a jam-like consistency. Add the white wine and let reduce.
  6. Add the cooked cuttlefish and meatballs to the big pan. Cover with water or fish broth.
  7. Cook for 15 min at low heat. Then add the peas and taste to adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Prepare a “picada”: chop 2 garlic cloves, 2-3 parsley stems, almonds and fried bread. Mix with a bit of the cooking juice and add to the pan.
  9. Cook for another 5 min and make the final salt & pepper adjustments.


If you cannot find cuttlefish you can use calamari instead.

The meatballs can be made from beef or a combination of beef and pork, if only pork is not your thing.

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