Did you wear–and eat–something green for St. Patrick’s Day? Well, we were wearing–and eating–green, white and red on March 17 because we were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

Since Torino, where we live, was the first capitol of unified Italy, there were flags flying everywhere–even off of our balcony–and festivities happening all across Italy!

To celebrate the holiday, but stay on our theme of “Veggies your family will love”, I decided to make Spinach Balls, since they pair so well with white mozzarella balls and bright red cherry tomatoes. Looks like the Italian flag, right on my table! They are nutritious (lots of Vitamin A, iron and calcium), convenient (can be made ahead and served at room temperature), and inexpensive. Plus, they taste great! I found myself taking another…and another…and another. But I didn’t feel guilty as they are quite healthy and actually I’ve adapated the original recipe to make it even healthier by using two egg whites instead of two whole eggs, and 1/4 cup of olive oil instead of the original 1/2 C. butter! They’re a good thing to have setting around while you’re fixing supper…so when hubby or the kids come by and wonder how long until time to eat, they can grab a couple of these.

I think frozen spinach is an amazingly great value. Have you ever bought fresh spinach and cooked it? Frist, it takes a year and a day to clean it all, unless it’s the more expensive baby spinach. Then one humungus bag cooks down into almost NOTHING! But frozen spinach is solid SPINACH.

In Europe spinach is frozen into cubes, about 1.5-inches square. Very convenient for grabbing a few per person to cook up for supper. And I often sautè it with just olive oil and garlic–staples in my Italian kitchen. We love it like that. But these Spinach Balls are up a notch…plus you can make them ahead, even freeze them if you need to. They can be packed with a lunch. Or munched on during a soccer game. You’ll probably be making a double batch before you know it!

Since the frozen spinach is sold in 1 kg. bags, I get out my handy-dandy digital scale and weigh out about 600 g. (The original recipe was from the U.S. where they use 10 oz. boxes; two 10-oz. boxes equals 600 g. I knew you were wondering why I chose such an odd amount to work with!)

They're a little misshapen since they've thawed...but you can sort of see the cube shape of the spinach.

The thawed spinach has to be squeezed very well. You could press it into a colander, I suppose, but I find just using my hands and squeezing it a handful at a time is fairly quick and easy.

I set the squeeze-out spinach aside, and put the remaining ingredients into my food processor. I like to let my processor do the fine chopping for me…but you can easily mix these up by hand so long as you mince the onion and garlic well. So into the processor goes…onion and garlic…

…egg whites (I like to skip the cholesterol and fat but you can use whole eggs if you prefer)…

I toss in the Parmesan cheese…

…bread crumbs, salt, and olive oil…do you see how green it is? I use extra-virgin.  Wish I could send you some! It’s inexpensive here.

And then I give it a whirl. I want the garlic and onion to be really well chopped.

Now, I add the well-squeezed spinach and process until completely mixed.

Depending on your processor, you may need to occasionally open the lid and scrape down the sides…but it will eventually look like this:

I pinch a small amount into my hand with my fingers…….and roll it into a ball using a circular motion with my palms, like this:

Now they go on a greased, or parchment-lined baking sheet…

…and into a 350°F  (180° C) oven for 10-15 minutes, just until firm and somewhat darkened. Then, they go onto a cooking rack…

..ready for munching, or serving. Today I arranged them like the Italian flag (at the top). Another time I set them on a crystal pedestal plate, garnished with fresh spinach and canape picks.

Just put ’em on a plate and enjoy ’em! Veggies are good for ya!

Ciao!

Debbie

With lots of Vitamin A, spinach is also high in iron and calcium. Frozen spinach saves not only time””you don’t have to wash it all and clean it””but also money as it is economical.

Spinach Balls

Yield: 3 donzen 1-inch/2.5 cm balls

Spinach Balls

Ingredients

  • 20 oz./600 g frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 egg whites (or whole eggs)
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 C. olive oil, or melted butter
  • 1 C. (40 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 C. (150 g) dry bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Thaw spinach; squeeze well with your hands to remove all water. Set aside.
  2. Combine onion, egg whites (or eggs), garlic, salt, Parmesan and breadcrumbs and mix well. (I let my food processor do the work of chopping everything up but you can also combine them by hand if you mince everything well.)
  3. Add the well-drained spinach, mixing until well combined.
  4. Pinch off small amounts and roll between your palms to shape into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls.
  5. Bake on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes at 350° F (180° C).
  6. Serve at room temperature as an appetizer or snack. They pair well with mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes, as pictured here, but can be served alone.
http://ciaofromdebbie.com/blog/step-by-step-cooking/happy-birthday-italy/

Spinach Ball recipe is on p. 16 of O Taste & See Some More!; original recipe calls for 1/2 C. butter instead of 1/4 C. olive oil.

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