Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spaghetti and No-Meat Balls

A Cooks of Cake and Kindness Culinary Experience Part II: Karla mentioned last week that we cooked a 3 course dinner for some of our friends, and she shared the recipe for our first course - portabella mushroom caps with spinach and fried egg. After the delicious first course, the expectations were high for the second course of our meatless menu. We chose spaghetti with spinach balls inspired by this recipe. Just like our first dish, this one also has multiple components, but each component is quite simple to make, and they all complement each other very well in terms of taste and texture.

Ingredients (8 servings):

1 lb uncooked thin spaghetti or vermicelli/angel hair pasta (we used half regular and half whole wheat)

For Spinach balls:
~2.5 cups frozen spinach (but you can use chopped fresh spinach)
0.5-1 tbsp chopped garlic (adjust according to taste - we like it garlicky so we went with a lot)
~1 cup ricotta cheese (we used part-skim ricotta)
~1 cup bread crumbs / oat bran / crushed cereal (we used panko bread crumbs)
salt and pepper to taste
paprika (optional)
oil for shallow frying

For sauce:
4 8oz cans of tomato sauce
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
~1-2 TBSP canola oil (optional)
Italian seasoning to taste
*If you don’t have a pre-made Italian seasoning mix, you can add the following spices to taste, which is what we did: garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano

To make the spinach balls, heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add spinach, salt and let it cook for ~8 minutes the liquid released by the spinach is mostly evaporated. You do not want any liquid left as this will make it difficult to form the balls. Once cooked take the pan off the heat and let the spinach cool down. Add ricotta cheese and breadcrumbs to the cooled spinach. Adjust the quantities of both as required until you get a consistency which holds well on its own, almost like soft cookie dough that has just come together. Season with salt, pepper, paprika (optional) and form balls about 1 inch in diameter.
Heat a little oil in a pan. Keep the heat at low-medium - the spinach ricotta balls can burn very easily. Add a few balls to the pan and shallow fry, turning them so that all sides get browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat until all the ballas are shallow fried. If required, these can be reheated in the microwave for 30 seconds.

For the sauce, you can make a more elaborate tomato sauce with sautéed garlic, onions (also chopped peppers if you like), followed by crushed/diced tomatoes and tomato puree and seasoning. We went with a quicker route, using canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. For this version, combine 2 cans of tomato sauce and 1 can of diced tomato over medium heat. Add canola oil and season with salt, pepper, and blend of Italian spices. Stir well and let the sauce heat through.

Boil spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente.

Serve the spaghetti topped with the sauce (or you can mix it in), and the spinach ricotta balls. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top for extra deliciousness.


1 comment:

  1. those spinach balls were amazing!! I can't wait to try to make them myself