Vegan spinach balls

Vegan spinach balls

vegan spinach balls pasta

Hope your week has been peachy thus far? We’ve been both busy working as we plan to take Friday off to go walking somewhere green and remote. Duncan has lots of leave that he needs to take before the end of the year and my work schedule has an element of flexibility, which I definitely should make more of.

In general, I’m trying to learn to work smarter not harder. It feels like a 4 day week is definitely something that is within my reach provided I eradicate some of my less appealing habits like habitual procrastination when something feels in even a small way daunting!! Can you relate? It’s one of the issues I am currently working on with my therapist. Even though it’s still very early days and there is a lot of ‘sweat and tears’ (or discomfort and tears more like) in my future, I am starting to see some small changes in my outlook and behaviour already. I promised myself to stay patient and not to throw my toys out of the pram as I know that it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

I’ve been on an Italian food train lately and so today’s recipe is another Italian dish delightfully called ‘spinach balls’. It’s inspired by one of my favourite dishes at Carluccio’s back when I lived in London and wasn’t vegan. The original recipe contains bucket loads of Parmesan and eggs, but it turns out that flax eggs and a generous amount nutritional yeast are two common vegan replacements that make this dish easy to veganise.

These crispy on the outside and soft on the inside spinach balls make for a delicious starter or snack, but they are also a great way to jazz up and bulk up your favourite bowl of pasta. They are really easy to make, flavourful and a great way to get some spinach into your kids as I know, from personal experience of being one, that it can be a challenge. I used to hate spinach with passion as a little person yet, because I wasn’t allowed not to eat it, my dislike for it stayed with me for much longer than it should. Forcing something upon someone else is a sure way to achieve the opposite to the intended effect. Fact.

vegan spinach balls mixture

vegan spinach balls before after

vegan spinach balls fried

vegan spinach balls close up

makes
22
PREP
20 min
COOKING
20 min
makes
22
PREPARATION
20 min
COOKING
20 min
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tbsp ground up flax* or chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (+ optionally zest of 1 lemon)
  • 450 g / 16 oz fresh spinach
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • heaped ½ tsp salt, more to taste
  • ¼ tsp pepper, to taste
  • a generous amount of grated nutmeg, adjust to taste
  • 100 g / approx. 2 cups coarse (panko style is ideal) breadcrumbs** (GF if required)
  • oil for baking or frying
METHOD
  1. Place ground up flax / chia seeds in a small bowl with 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 60 ml / ¼ cup of water. Set aside to thicken.
  2. Blanch spinach in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, drain and immediately plunge into a bowl of iced water or rinse under cold water to preserve the colour.
  3. Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach with your hands, be very thorough. Chop dry spinach finely.
  4. Place all of the ingredients apart from breadcrumbs (and oil) in a mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs gradually making sure that the mixture isn’t too dry or too wet. There is a chance you won’t need all of the breadcrumbs or that you will need a touch more if your mixture is too wet. Go by feel.
  5. Form small, walnut-size balls out of the mixture with your hands. Chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
  6. Optionally, coat the balls in more breadcrumbs (they should stick to the surface easily) – this is especially nice if you intend to fry your spinach balls.
  7. You can bake them on an oiled baking tray for about 20 minutes at 180° C / 355° F, flipping them once half way through or you can also fry them in a generous amount of oil until browned on all sides.

NOTES
*I found that shop-bought ground up flax (I tested a UK brand Linwoods) is far less effective in the sense that it does not jellify so much as opposed to whole seeds ground up in a coffee grinder at home.

** Please be aware that fine breadcrumbs weigh more per cup. I make my own breadcrumbs by letting leftovers of my Turkish pide go stale and then smash them to smaller and bigger bits in a pestle and mortar. They keep in a jar for ages.

This recipe is inspired by Carluccio’s Penne Giardiniera.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
38
2%
sugars
0 g
0%
fats
1 g
2%
saturates
0 g
1%
proteins
2 g
4%
carbs
5 g
2%
*per ball
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5.0
12 reviews, 34 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
jackie:
Have made these twice. So delicious and so easy to make. Lovely cold next day.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Jackie! I'm so pleased to hear that you enjoyed these and I really appreciate you taking the time to leave this review, it helps me out so thank you! x Ania
Emily:
This recipe is incredible!
I’ve been having the non vegan version of these on my birthday for so long and was so gutted that I would have to stop after going vegan. You came to my rescue, thank you!! These were just as good if not better :) really made my day. So grateful for this recipe!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much Emily! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed it so much and that you were able to have your favourite birthday meal despite going vegan. And thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
Naz:
Hey, you mention 60ml of water or 1/4 tbsp. But a tbsp is 15ml. How much does the recipe call for?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Naz,
    Sorry, that's a typo, what it should say is 1/4 cup - thanks for letting me know - will correct asap. x Ania
      Naz:
      Yes, I figured as it would be a bit too little otherwise :-) Thanks for your quick reply! I've made them in the meanwhile and will fry them shortly! 😊
        Ania
        Ania:
        Hope you'll enjoy them. x Ania
Toyin:
Thanks for the recipe! I’ve made this twice so far!
Was wondering if you think this would do well with kale instead of spinach?
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that you enjoy these! Yes, I think kale would work just as well! Ania
Anj:
I can’t do flax/chia - do you think agar agar would work? Or pumpkin puree?
TIA!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Anj,
    No, I don't think any of these would work, unfortunately, but psyllium husks would. Hope this helps! Ania
Jessi Summers:
I really enjoyed these, though based on feedback from my fiance I will be experimenting with the spices going forward. I plan to pair it with a lemon-"cream" sauce on the pasta too. One thing that did frustrate me was that the two hour chill time was not acknowledged in the prep or cook time. Thankfully, I caught it reading ahead, but the chill time takes this from a weeknight recipe to a weekend recipe. Thank you for all your recipes!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Jessi,
    I'm delighted to hear that you and your boyfriend enjoyed these. Lemon cream sauce will work wonderfully, I'm sure. I follow fairly standard recipe convention whereby waiting/passive time isn't included in the prep time - otherwise who would ever look at a recipe that said 24 hrs prep (which can be the case for some breads, for example), but I will think about including it in my next website design. Thanks, Ania
corey:
is there a way to find out the nutritional information for all of your recipes? they look incredible but don't want to be too naughty but think I'm being good!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Corey,
    Unfortunately, I don't have any means of providing this information within my website for the time being. I plan to incorporate it into my next one but that's a few months away. Ania
These are so delicious, thank you! My friend's requested I make some for him- can these be made ahead by a day? Thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm so glad to hear that! My pleasure! I suppose so but honestly I have not tried so unsure how they will compare to freshly made ones. Ania
Adriana:
Really delicious recipe. I subbed the spinach with lacinato kale and the breadcrumbs from almond flour - I loved it.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great to hear that you enjoyed them, Adriana. Thank you for letting me and other readers know - it's very helpful! Ania
Sandra Worth:
Cooked mine in the air fryer and tucked a piece of feta into the centre. Delicious!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Sandra. And thanks for letting me know that they are air fryer compatible, that's super helpful. Ania
Yvette McPhail:
Hi Ania. I want to try this as it looks amazing, and am wondering if Kale could work? I am addicted to Tuscan Kale (a healthy addiction if ever there was one), so maybe it could be substituted? The leaves are quite sturdy and strong.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Yvette,
    I have not tried but I think it should work just as well if you pre-cook it to soften, squeeze all the excess water out well and chop super finely. Hope you'll enjoy the outcome! Ania
Siri:
Hi Ania,
I used brownlentils to increase my protein dose, they came out really well. Thanks for the inspiration, i have linked your page to my recipe.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, I am glad to hear that you enjoyed them! Ania
Nadine:
These were brilliant and very like the Carluccio’s ones. I added toasted pine nuts to the mix.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great to hear, Nadine! Thank you for letting me know! Ania
Siri:
These balls look fantastic Ania. Although I may try combining with some type of beans. I will report back !
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks! Sure, I hope it works out well. Ania
Esther:
Are there any breadcrumbs you would recommend that are healthy-ish? Thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Esther,
    I don't have any tips in this department, I am afraid. I use standard panko breadcrumbs. Ania
Kathryn:
I saw this at the perfect moment as I've bought a huge bag of spinach and was wondering how to use it all up before it goes off! I love the combination of nutmeg, nutritional yeast and spinach. I wouldn't have usually tried those together, but they taste great and definitely remind me of Carluccio’s.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great to hear, Kathryn! I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed these and thank you taking the time to let me know - much appreciated. x Ania
Elle:
I made these yesterday and they were good, quite easy to do! Thank you for the recipe!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Elle! I'm really happy to hear that! x Ania
Chandi:
I see you use large Oyster mushroom for the Vegan pasta dish. I am allergic to mushrooms. Any other suggestions? Thank you.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Chandi,
    Are you referring this recipe Vegan carbonara? You could use smokey tofu or tempeh instead. Hope that helps! Ania
Fiona:
This looks amazing! What did you put on the pasta? Looks like pesto and chilli flakes?
Jan:
Hi Ania. Have you ever thought about getting an air fryer? I bought one and it is now my favourite appliance. I love the crispiness of things that are fried but know that frying in oil is not the best thing. The air fryer has solved that problem - little or no oil and fabulous crispiness! I think that these spinach balls would be great done in it. They sound delicious and I can hardly wait to try them out!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Jan,
    I have heard of that appliance from a few of my readers, but I don't really have a need or counter space for one at the moment. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying yours so much. I hope that these will turn out great if you do decide to make them. Ania
Trish:
Oh my gosh! This is one of mine and my sister’s favourite dishes from Carluccio’s. My sister has been vegan for a while, but as someone that’s new to plant-based eating seeing this today has made my week! Can’t wait to try it out. Thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    My pleasure, I hope you and your sister will enjoy it! x Ania
Judy:
Omigosh, I am now in heaven! I put spinach in and on EVERYTHING, and I have a beautiful garden full of it. Guess what I'm making for dinner! Thank you so much, this looks absolutely delicious.
    Ania
    Ania:
    That's fantastic to hear, Judy! I really hope you'll enjoy these - they were a big hit with my husband. x Ania
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