spinach and mozzarella balls
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Balls – not a bad way to have your food presented. There’s something comforting about round shapes on your plate, often than not smothered in tomato or gravy. A sphere of food is arguably more enticing than a square – unless we’re talking pork belly or lasagne.
Bite-sized balls are particularly cute, the ones that will go in one. Truffles are hardly ever square, are they? Here's to the ball shaped snacks!
So how about a dinner of meatballs with a side order of arancini or Mexican rice balls, followed by a cheese ball and crackers; with coconut balls for sweets? And the veg, why, of course: spinach balls!
It’s the signature dish of my favourite home chef and he often makes them for a starter. His are fancier and frequently involve bacon which is never a bad thing. I took the reins this time and just mashed everything up together. Guess what – it worked very well.
They are really good as a side, being more spinachy than cheesy. If you fancy them as a gooey, oozy snack or appetizer, add more cheese and then some.
- Makes 10
- 300g (11oz.) fresh or frozen spinach
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 20g (4 tbsp.) grated Parmesan plus 2 tbsp. for coating
- 120g (4 ½ oz.) mozzarella, diced
- 50g (scant ½ cup) white breadcrumbs (Panko) plus 2 tbsp. for coating
- 1 egg
- salt and black pepper
- a pinch of grated nutmeg
If using fresh spinach, wash it and blanch in boiling water or wilt in a microwave. Let it cool down and squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can. Chop it roughly.
If using frozen, thaw it completely and again, squeeze the living daylights out of it. Chop roughly if it’s whole leaves.
Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly in a bowl, except for the extra Parmesan and breadcrumbs for coating; mix those in a separate bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Scoop a tablespoon of the mix at a time and form tight balls; roll them in the coating mix and place on a tray. When all are shaped, chill them for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Brush a baking tray with cooking oil. Place the chilled balls on the baking tray and bake for 25 minutes until the coating breadcrumbs turns golden brown.
Serve immediately as a side dish; excellent with a steak. But the balls are also nice as finger food, at room temperature.