Tasty Green Things
I love Pinterest as much as the next girl (find my pinterest, instagram and facebook page in the side bar later), and sometimes you have wins, other times you have fails. Today’s win was inspired by Pinterest, but liberally changed to create what I think turned out to be an even tastier version of a “spinach ball”.
These little guys pack a pretty big punch, and I think they’d be great as an appetizer. I was even trying to figure out what kind of dip they would be good with, most likely a homemade marinara, or even used in your spaghetti sauce.
The original recipe called for boxes of frozen spinach; why use that when I have a massive bag of fresh spinach? Also called for Pepperidge Farm brand bread crumbs; again, why use that when I had some day old garlic bread? See what I’m doing there?
I’ve never been a huge fan of leftovers, but when you can take what you have on hand or in your fridge and create something new, that means you’re on the right track to chef-dom. Remember when we talked about what we use Herbs for a couple months ago? THIS is the perfect recipe to incorporate some of that beautiful basil, a dash of chives and a couple ruffly bits of parsley.
Here are some photos and we’ll talk through it along the way.
1. I chopped up the two pieces of garlic bread I had left into 1×1 cubes. Tossed them on a pan, and placed them in the oven for 20 minutes on 350 till they were crunchy and brown.
The best part about this recipe is that you can add/subtract any part of it. The basic factors need to stay roughly the same. They asked for bread crumbs, I had bread. This was one of those big garlic french breads from the grocery store. I was very lucky that the family had eaten all but the last two slices. It was already pretty seasoned.
However, if you are using a more dry bread, something not so seasoned, feel free to cube, toss with a little olive oil and your favorite seasoning. If going with this method, you may need to let it go into the oven for 20 minutes, toss and then another 20 minutes to get it crisp.
2. While your bread is drying out and crisping in the oven, let’s chop up our herbs and spinach. I took a big handful of spinach out of the bag, 4 big plump basil leaves, about half a dozen chive strands, and a nice little clip of parsley… here they are as a whole (chop the herbs pretty fine, chop the spinach roughly into small bits).
These herbs are fresh from the garden (the spinach is Popeye brand if you must know, it’s the one thing I don’t grow).
If you haven’t created a container garden of fresh herbs, you should really give it a try (or even try it in your home). They’re a delightful addition to every meal, and when they really start growing, your friends will love you too, because you can give it away.
For a packet of chopped up chives like the ones I have here, only shorter to get into the little plastic container, the grocery charges you around $8 bucks a pop. That grouping of chives is one of a dozen I’ve clipped so far, and the plant itself was $2 at the local nursery. Think about it.
3. Shred that cheese up! We’re using a nice hard Parmesan, fresh grated on the small loops of a box grater, and a dash of Romano as well.
Noticed I’ve eyeballed all of this (its because we’re just going with the flow here)… about a half cup or so all together.
I love fresh grated Parmesan. It’s a nice hard cheese, grates well, and has a touch of salty tang to it. That grated crap you get in a shaker can is not worth your time or effort. I toss about 3 tablespoons of Romano in for a nice edge to it all. Keeps the flavors moving.
Keep some blocks of cheese in the fridge, invest in a nice four sided box grater, and you’ll save every time. Especially when it comes to the “bags” of cheese you’re spending 5 bucks on, they’re covered in preservatives, just let them go. Keep it fresh.
4. Blend it all up with some butter and eggs. Here’s where I get into some measurements.
When the bread was crispy and warm, my “sous chef”, Ma, crunched it all up with a fork and her fingers. It came out to be about a cup of bread crummies. Half a cup of the cheese, and while it looks small, there’s about two cups of green stuff hiding underneath all of that.
To this bowl we add about 4 tablespoons of melted butter and mix all around.
Take 3 eggs and crack into a separate bowl. Whisk the eggs, and then pour into the main bowl. Which the melted butter having been mixed with the cheese, spinach and bread crumbs should be cooled down and happy now.
To all of this, add some fresh ground pepper and a couple dashes of garlic salt, if you have it. It will give it a little extra flavor.
Blend around… and now comes the FUN!!
5. Make some BALLS!!
This is the fun part… I took an ice cream scooper, and packed it with the mixture. You can put them pretty close on the pan if need be, as they don’t spread. They just kind of sit there.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
When I took them out, I shoveled them onto a plate to cool, and I have to say, once they were, they were a hit. I thought I’d be the only one eating them.
What do you eat with the spinach balls? How Do I serve them? What do they taste like?
Here’s what I plated my spinach balls with to make a nice well balanced meal:
Roasted chicken breast, cucumbers and spinach balls
What do they taste like?
They taste like a cheesy meatball almost. If you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative to meatballs, this may very well be the ideal candidate for your next spaghetti.
How do I serve them?
Serve them any way you’d like. I’m thinking as a side dish, just like I did, or as an appetizer. They could be a good fancy dinner party moment, or even just as a snack. They’re pretty filling, so a couple spinach balls will do you nicely.
Next time you’re looking for something random and delicious, try out creating a spinach ball. They firm up really well, and just like a meatball, they freeze very nicely too!