Spinach Balls - A Festive Holiday Side Dish
This time of year in Italy the outdoor farmers markets always have wooden crates piled high with bright green spinach leaves. And, if you meander into any mom-and-pop fruit and vegetable store, you’ll find spinach balls behind the glass counter along with other freshly cooked vegetables like pumpkins, beets, carrots and green beans.
To make this dish, the spinach is simply steamed, sautéed or boiled then rolled together in tight balls which are usually served cold with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil or a splash of lemon. I like to give this dish a bit more flavor by cooking the spinach with garlic, green onions, spices and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
These spinach balls are great to make during the weekday when you want something nutritious in a matter of minutes, and wrapped with a chive stem they also become a cute little “present” for a festive holiday side dish.
Cut off the spinach roots and wash the spinach at least 3 times in cool water. Use a salad spinner to thoroughly dry the spinach leaves.
In a large skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil then add the garlic and green onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium low heat. Now add the spinach and cover until slightly wilted. You may need to add the spinach in batches if your skillet isn’t large enough to hold all the leaves at once. Simply wait 30 seconds until the leaves of the first batch have wilted then add more spinach. Repeat if necessary.
Stir in the nutmeg, cloves, rosemary, oregano, salt and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Continue to cook for a 3 minutes until the cheese has melted and any liquid has evaporated. Serve warm in a bowl or wait until cool and roll into balls and serve cold. To create a festive “holiday package”, simply wrap the balls with a chive stem.