Having returned from a wonderful holiday, full of energy, ideas and an intense wish to neglect the existence of January, I want to start this year with a really new and extraordinary recipe. Something you never thought of. Something that will become even more trendy than cupcakes or mochi ice cream.
OK, I’ll stop here and disclose the truth: I hate food trends, I love normal food. I am not getting near mochi ice cream. It’s probably wonderful but I live in rural Umbria where the apex of exotic in our supermarket is Uncle Ben’s Mexican sauce. I am not getting near that either. As someone who has lived in Texas, I know it’s awful.
Faithful to my principles, I am offering you again a totally normal and definitely un-trendy recipe. One which my family loves even if there are hidden vegetables. We could easily have them once a week. They are great dipped in a spicy tomato sauce or with a few drops of green Tabasco. Or some real Mexican salsa if I could have some. That would not be trendy for you, but very much for us, dwellers of the Umbrian hills!
- 500 gr (1 lb) spinach, washed, steamed and finely chopped
- 300 gr(2/3 lb) ground meat of your choice, I use half pork and half beef
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 4 tablespoon grated Parmesan or Pecorino
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch of black pepper
- 4 tablespoon bread crumbs (or gluten-free equivalent)
- 4 tablespoon coarse polenta flour
- 1 egg
Preheat oven at 220°C (425 °F). Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl. Line a large oven tin with lightly oiled parchment paper. Sprinkle the polenta flour on a tray or large flat plate.
Mix the chopped spinach, ground meat, grated cheese, fennel, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Meatballs will cook better and faster if you make them small and of the same size. Use a tablespoon to make equal portions, then roll each meatball with your hands into approx. 1.5 inch wide x 1/2 inch thick round shapes.
Now you need to work quickly: dip the meatballs in egg, then roll in the polenta flour, flatten slightly and distribute them on the lined oven tin. Bake 20 minutes turning once or twice until brown on both sides. Serve immediately with mashed potato or country-style bread.
To make a spicy sauce, follow one of my recipes for tomato sauce here or here and – when cooked – add as much fresh, chopped chili pepper as you like. Don’t cook the meatballs in sauce, just dip them one by one while eating to retain the nice crunchy feel of the crust. It’s more fun.
Makes 36 small meatballs.
PS. If like me you wish to forget that it’s January, watch this video which will transport you into my kitchen and in Umbria in a sunny spring day, with plenty of good food, wonderful wines and lots and lots of beauty. Enjoy!