Because sometimes it’s nice to recreate a favourite restaurant dish at home lets try these spinach balls form one of our favourite Carluccio Restaurant dishes – Penne Giardiniera – pasta with courgette and plenty of chilli and garlic, topped with deep fried spinach and parmesan balls, known in Italian as polpettine di spinaci. Okay, so the deep fried bit doesn’t sound so wholesome, but we’ve come up with a healthier, baked version of the spinach balls. You don’t have to necessarily have them with pasta (which can be a little heavy); these spinach balls are very versatile so you could, depending on your mood, serve them floating in a homemade soup, or alongside a hearty salad if you’re feeling extra virtuous. Alternatively try these as a Mediterranean alternative to fried Indian pastries; they go well with a chilli dipping sauce.
Makes 24 little balls
500g fresh spinach
salt and pepper for seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of pureed garlic
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, freshly grated
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a baking sheet. Wash the spinach, and blanch in a pan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes; then drain. Squeeze out as much excess water as you can (press the leaves down with a teaspoon in a sieve). Chop finely. Put the spinach in a medium sized bowl, and mix in the beaten eggs, salt and pepper, nutmeg, garlic, breadcrumbs and Parmesan-style cheese- it is already usually pretty strong, so you don’t necessarily need as much salt as you might think!. The mixture should start to bind – but be careful not to leave it too wet (if it looks too sloppy, you can add more breadcrumbs). Roll the mixture into little balls, the size of a walnut. Place them on the baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 20 minutes – they are cooked when the parmesan and breadcrumbs turn golden. Serve either with a pasta and sauce; soup; salad or on its own as an iftar starter.