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Vegetarian Spinach Meatballs & Spaghetti

Vegetarian Spinach Meatballs & Spaghetti | A Couple Cooks

Vegetarian Spinach Meatballs & Spaghetti | A Couple Cooks

Vegetarian Spinach Meatballs & Spaghetti | A Couple Cooks

“Don’t believe anything you read on the internet!” That’s London-based cooking phenom Izy Hossack, speaking with me on the A Couple Cooks podcast. I had asked her one of my favorite questions to ask guests, which I was asked once in an interview. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? 

The context: she’s at university studying nutrition science and is passionate about stopping the spread of misinformation by debunking health myths. Health crazes can now spread like wildfire on the internet, from juice cleanses so protein powders to collagen. (She debunks the latter on the podcast.) Her philosophy: sensible, balanced diet of real, whole foods. It’s not a sexy message. It’s not click-bait worthy. But after all of her schooling, real, whole foods win out as the most sensible foods on the planet.

It’s funny how as humans, we gravitate towards a sort of “magic pill” philosophy to health. If we could just figure out the secret, our lives would be glowing, happy, and healthy. So it makes sense that when a health craze comes out, people are quick to jump on the bandwagon. We’ve been doing it for centuries. What Izy’s all about is informed decisions, doing your research, and then taking a balanced approach to everyday cooking.

Her latest cookbook, The Savvy Cook, is all about this philosophy: her recipes use accessible, everyday ingredients to create something delicious and memorable. (We quite like that, since it jives well with our Pretty Simple Cooking philosophy that we share in our soon-to-release book.) It’s full of healthy dinner ideas, quick snacks, and cheeky desserts (love those Brits!), and even a chapter on “template” meals that are easy to customize. Throughout, there are tips on how to reuse leftovers from those recipes in the weeks ahead. And, it’s all written by a college student, so the meals have got to be doable for the student lifestyle.

Paging through the book for healthy dinner ideas, these vegetarian meatballs caught my eye—likely because of our passion for Mediterranean food. They’re made with spinach and feta, and are unlike any other vegetarian meatballs I’ve tasted! Typically vegetarian meatballs Alex and I have tried have a legume like chickpeas or lentils (or some kind of nuts), but these are straight up spinach, feta, egg, oat flour, and dried herbs. The taste? Incredibly savory: almost, dare I say, meaty. They can be baked or pan-fried: we tried both ways, and preferred the baked version a bit better. It’s easier, and the balls keep their round shape. (Pan-frying is quicker, but a little more finicky). The pasta is prepared using an intriguing method: it’s stirred with shredded zucchini, butter, and soy sauce (or tamari). The combination adds a savory, almost cheesy flavor to the recipe. To top it off, we added our own touch: cherry tomatoes from our farmer’s market! I can’t resist using red, orange, and yellow cherry tomatoes in everything we eat lately (you’ll see more, coming soon).

Speaking of Mediterranean food, Izy notes that for leftovers, you can re-purpose these vegetarian meatballs as falafel and use them in a sandwich. That got us thinking that they’d also be great in this Falafel Salad Bowl. It’s got a Creamy Cilantro Dressing that’s to die for (or for vegan, use this Lemon Tahini Dressing).

Hats off to Izy on a stunning book! Make sure to check out her interview over on the podcast (search for “A Couple Cooks” in your podcast app or iTunes, then subscribe).

The featured book

Order The Savvy Cook by Izzy Hossack.

Looking for Mediterranean food recipes? 

We’re big fans of Mediterranean food (and Mediterranean travel, of course!). Here are a few recipes for Mediterranean food we’d recommend for this summer:

Looking for healthy dinner ideas? 

Who isn’t looking for healthy dinner ideas, these days? A few of our top healthy dinner ideas, again with a summer flair:

Did you make this recipe?

If you make these spinach vegetarian meatballs with spaghetti, we’d love to hear how they turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free. (For vegan, if anyone wants to veganize this, let us know in the comments!)

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Spinach Vegetarian Meatballs with Spaghetti


  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Yield: 2 to 4

Description

Note: If you have leftover vegetarian meatballs, you can repurpose them as falafel in a sandwich or salad.


Ingredients

  • 14 ounces baby spinach or 9 ounces frozen, cooked spinach, thawed
  • 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (process 1/2 cup rolled oats in a food processor or blender) or bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (for cooking, optional)
  • 10 ounces dry spaghetti (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 5 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. If using fresh baby spinach, add to a large saucepan with a small splash of water. Place over medium-low heat and cover with a lid. Cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse under cold running water. Squeeze the spinach out over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop and set aside. (Tip: using frozen spinach helps cut prep time; we’ll try that next time.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the feta, dried herbs, a generous amount of black pepper, the egg, and oat flour or bread crumbles together. Stir in the chopped spinach, then scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. You should get about 20 balls. You can either place them on a baking sheet lined with nonstick parchment paper and bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 20 to 25 minutes, or fry them over medium heat in 2 batches, in 2 tablespoons oil per batch, turning, until golden on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes. (Tip: we tried it both ways, and found the baked version was easiest!)
  3. Boil the pasta, then drain.
  4. Return the pasta to the pan off the heat, then stir in the butter, soy sauce, or tamari, and shredded zucchini. Toss with halved cherry tomatoes and serve.

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    North
    July 19, 2017 at 10:46 am

    What a great idea! I’m definitely trying this.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      July 26, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Izy’s a master! Let us know if you try it and what you think.

  • Reply
    Nina
    July 20, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I think it can be easily veganized ! I would use lacto-fermented tofu instead of the feta cheese (or regular firm tofu, well pressed, would also work, maybe with a bit of miso or nutritional yeast or cashew butter for a more cheesy flavour) and use a flax or chia egg instead of the regular one. Ok, now I feel like trying this!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      July 26, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Those sounds like great ideas! If you do try it, we’d love to hear! Please let us know if you can! :)

    • Reply
      shan
      July 28, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      Flax egg was my first thought, too. I’ve never even heard of lacto-fermented tofu, so my second thought was just leaving out the feta. I wonder if simply adding nooch would be enough?

      • Reply
        Sonja
        July 30, 2017 at 10:32 pm

        Hmmm interesting! Perhaps with the flax egg and nutritional yeast it would be enough flavor? Not sure, though. I’ll leave it to the experts to try!

        • Reply
          shan
          August 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm

          I tried it over the weekend! Although my spinach balls were a bit gnarly because I forgot to chop the spinach up, they tasted really good with the flax egg and nutritional yeast (I used two tablespoons). I will definitely make this recipe again. But now I wonder if they can be made in advance and frozen? I think that might work! Thanks so much, Sonja!

          • Sonja
            August 3, 2017 at 10:07 pm

            Oh that sounds perfect, thank you for trying this out vegan! That is really good to know. (Haha about gnarly with the spinach!) I would say that these would probably freeze well and then reheat in an oven. Thanks again for making them!

  • Reply
    Medha @ Whisk & Shout
    July 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    So yummy and looks super delicious! Spinach and feta are two of my favorites to pair with pasta :) Pinning!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      July 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      Us too! That inspires me for a future pasta too. Thanks for pinning!

  • Reply
    Anton Rukaj
    September 17, 2017 at 2:01 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I am going to try at this weekend. It is always exciting when you make something new.

  • Reply
    Sara
    October 29, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    My mom and I made this dish tonight. We used frozen spinach and found the “meatballs” to be a little bit dry but tasty. Perhaps we squeezed out too much moisture?

    What would you recommend for the mix of dried herbs? We used a mix of oregano, parsley & Italian seasoning + a touch of nutmeg but would love to know your suggestions.

    Overall, it was a tasty dish and we really enjoyed the addition of the shredded zucchini with the soy sauce + butter. We used Banza (chickpea pasta) and also added some chopped, cooked chanterelles (a delicious addition). Next time we will have to try adding back in a little bit of water if the balls look dry when we’re forming them.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 29, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you for this thoughtful comment! I have not made it with frozen spinach, so I wonder if that is correct on the moisture question! I can check with the recipe author, Izy Hossack. The mix of dried herbs: I looked up a few recipes for herb de Provence and the main herbs are thyme, marjoram, rosemary, oregano and lavender — so your herbs sound great! Let me know if you try again with a little more moisture! In the meantime, I’ll check with Izy!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 30, 2017 at 11:03 am

      Hi there! An update from Izy — she says, “I would agree that the frozen spinach could be drier from the freezing process. Adding a little liquid back in would definitely help with that I’d say!”

      • Reply
        Sara
        October 30, 2017 at 11:38 am

        Thanks for the update! Will have to try that next time and might mix up the herbs based on your suggestions. Also wanted to note that we got 15 balls from the mixture, this may also be due to using frozen spinach (it was a 10 oz package but I squeezed out a lot of water!)

        • Reply
          Sonja
          November 5, 2017 at 7:58 pm

          Interesting! Thanks for sharing that: it sounds like frozen spinach changes the game a bit. We appreciate your feedback Sara! :)

  • Reply
    Sharon
    January 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    hi there, can these spinach balls be frozen? just wondering..or how long do they keep in the fridge? small family here..thanks to Sara for feedback on using frozen spinach…

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 14, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Good question! I would say that these would probably freeze well and then reheat in an oven. However, Alex and I ate almost all of them in one sitting – ha! We refrigerated the small amount of extras and they were great the next day.

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