Everyone has a list of appetizers that they can throw together pretty quickly for a party and these little spinach balls are no exception. I’ve changed a recipe that was given to me a couple of years back to make it more healthy and use local products. These were eaten up pretty quickly at the Holiday Open House at Seaboard Station. They are kind of ugly and there’s no way around the appearance. But what they lack in beauty they make up for in ease of preparation and range of serving temperatures. This recipe makes about 30 little balls which is plenty for a small group if you have other appetizers.
A couple of “second harvest” notes for you: I always buy extra fresh spinach at the market in the spring and fall to steam and freeze in 6-8oz freezer baggies because farmers normally plant more than they can sell of this crop so the price comes down at some point. The steamed spinach is an easy addition to lasagna, casseroles, quiche, or strata. When I buy fresh local bread at the market it frequently goes a bit stale faster than I can use it because there aren’t preservatives so I cube it or “crumb” it and freeze part of it plain on the second or third day for bread puddings or to as an additive to recipes. Part of it I toast up with herbs and a bit of olive oil for salad or soup croutons. If you have some of the latter in the freezer this will work fine in the recipe. Normally you will already have enough oil in the croutons and there should be enough moisture from steaming the spinach to keep the bread sufficiently moist during the baking process.
In the photo the spinach balls are in the upper left corner on the tall plate with toothpicks in them. I’ll get a closer picture and replace this one in the next couple of weeks.
- 6 oz fresh spinach, steamed & chopped
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 roasted garlic clove, mashed
- 1/2 cup aged Asiago cheese, grated (sub. Parmesan)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted & chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 cup organic stuffing mix (sub. home-made or Pepperidge Farms)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper & 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Check the bread stuffing pieces to make sure they are not larger than 1/4″ square. I prefer to make mine smaller and more uniform using the food processor or using a plastic bag and mallet, smashing it up a bit more to keep the texture of the finished product more uniform in texture.
- Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Because there isn’t much oil or butter in this updated recipe, you don’t need to chill the ingredients before you form the balls, but I do like to let it rest for about 15 minutes so the water from the spinach and the eggs can permeate and soften the bread crumbs before I bake them.
- Form small bite size balls. Larger balls will take longer to cook all the way through so I really prefer a small bite which is about 3/4″ diameter. You could freeze or refrigerate the balls at this point and use the later.
- Set the balls on a parchment paper lined baking pan pretty close together but not touching. These do not expand while cooking. Bake at 300F for 20-30 minutes until they are golden and just starting to brown a bit. You can cook these in a toaster oven but I normally set the heat to 325F in a toaster oven because it lacks the insulation and regulation of temperature is less precise.
- The beauty of these is that during the summer months they taste wonderful chilled. During spring and fall they are just fine at room temperature and in the winter they are delicious just out of the oven with a bowl of roasted tomato or French onion soup.