After a weekend of visiting family and friends back in beautiful, sunny Leicestershire, I was in need of a quick supper. I always find travelling super draining- plus soaking up in the sun doesn’t help either- so I scanned through my Savvy Cook cookbook and decided to go for Izy’s spinach and feta balls.
I was slightly worried about the freshness of my ingredients after my weekend off gallivanting, and although slightly passed their use by date, unsurprisingly everything was fine. My rule is, if it doesn’t smell funny, taste funny and isn’t growing mould its fine! I was really excited to try these veggie balls as they’re both a cheaper and healthier alternative to meat balls.
My ingredients were:
- 200g Spinach
- 50g Feta
- Mixed herbs (I used basil and oregano)
- 5g Breadcrumbs
- ½ Egg (Bit tricky!)
The measurements are a bit odd I must admit, and I tried my best with the ½ egg, I just didn’t want to end up with loads of leftovers so therefore I only made half of the portions suggested in the book.
I started off with my spinach. In a large saucepan I emptied out my measured spinach and covered the leaves in water, on a high heat I waited for these to wilt, once the pan was hot this took about 5/6 minutes. After the leaves had shrunk slightly I ran them under the cold tap, to take away the heat, and squeezed out the water using a clean tea towel. I wouldn’t use any precious tea towels for this, as it can leave a rather green hue. After the liquid was drained I roughly chopped the spinach and set it aside.
Onto the breadcrumb and feta mix. I was a bit bamboozled at this bit, just because I had never really used or made breadcrumbs myself before, and I suddenly realised that I didn’t have any bread appropriate for the job. One of the useful things about living in a house of 7 is that someone is always bound to be able to help. I found ½ a slightly stale baguette that I knew would be perfect. In my Nutribullet I whizzed it up and it created perfect breadcrumbs.
Into a large bowl I poured my beautiful breadcrumbs, 50g roughly crumbled feta, ½ egg and 2 big sprinkles of each herb. I chose to keep the feta a bit chunky so that I had pockets of salty cheese in the spinach balls- a genius idea if I do say so myself. Like I mentioned, measuring half an egg was a bit challenging but I tried to make sure I got both the yolk and the white. I am really lucky at the moment because Josh has bought back loads of eggs from his farm in Devon and it reminds me of being at home- nothing beats free range eggs with their bright orange yolks.
I chose to combine the mixture with a wooden spoon rather than with my hands, however, I imagine the latter is quite fun if you don’t mind dirty fingers! To this mixture I then added my cooled spinach and stirred again.
I didn’t have a baking tray to hand so instead I used my roasting tin that I covered in a light drizzle of vegetable oil. At this point I did use my hands and lightly shaped out 9 spinach and feta balls. Using half of the ingredients I should have got about 10, but I found when eating them, a portion of three was perfect anyway. I popped my tin into the oven that was pre-heated to 180 degrees. The recipe does state these can be pan fried too for a quicker cook, for about 3-4 minutes, ensuring all sides are golden. I opted to bake them, and this took about 25 minutes.
The recipe suggests having these balls with spaghetti, which I agree would be very nice, however, as I had leftover brown rice in the fridge this became a substitute.
In a large pan I added a nob of butter and salt and pepper to my brown rice. Along with the seasoning I grated about ¼ of a courgette into the pan, which gave the rice a fresh lift and really complimented my spinach balls!
Like I said, 3 balls were the perfect portion for my dinner and on the top, I added another few shakes of salt and pepper, some more crumbled feta, lovely and tangy, and more courgette. I am really happy with how this dish turned out as it was so simple and really full of flavour. The generous helpings of pepper added a spicy hit and the spinach was moist yet crispy on the outside.
Cost wise, for the spinach and feta balls alone, all 9 cost me £1.45, so 16p per ball, with only slightly more adding on for the brown rice/pasta and courgette topping. This doesn’t include my basil and oregano, but this can be bought for about 60p per pot which lasts for AGES.
In the future I will definitely try this dish again however I may maybe a few tweaks, possibly adding some fresh chillies or chilli flakes, and also some pan-fried garlic too (I am a bit of a spice and garlic addict).