Monday, August 3, 2015

Spinach 'Meatballs' with Spaghetti & Courgettesauce

We have a winner and a keeper!!!!

Our children our the worst eaters I've ever met, especially the oldest. When he was 7 months, old after one of those childrens illnesses, he decided he didn't want anything but milk and bread. After a while some pear and bananas went in as well, but meat and/or vegetables were out of the question. After his first birthday, he started to eat a little bit more. But, now 4 years old, still his diet exists of bread with peanutbutter or someother sweet topping, some types of fruit, sausages, chicken, kibbeling (a dutch fishdish you buy at a fishstand and consists of fried pieces of seasoned cod) and pasta without any sauce. Since half a year now, we now and then get him to eat a tiny bit of veggies by giving him only a little bit of the food he loves (sausages or chicken) and reward him with some more only if he eats a bit of his vegetables. But it is a fragile standoff, if we ask him to eat too much vegetables for a piece of meat he will not eat anything anymore... Trust me, we've done just about everything else to get him to eat a more normal and healthier diet. It just doesn't work with him.

His little sister isn't too fond of her veggies eather, but she can, like most children, sometimes be tricked by hiding the veggies in a sauce or in these spinachballs!!!, which she absolutely loved.
We had to trick her older brother to eat almost a whole spinachball by telling stories about Popeye and promising him more spaghetti without sauce. Meanwhile she was, as we say in Dutch, watching the food out of his mouth, after she had already eaten three balls of her own and some spaghetti (with sauce.. there has got to be some difference).

Spinach 'Meatballs' with Spaghetti & Courgettesauce
Adapted from:
Pasta met courgettesaus en spinazieballetjes
Eerlijk Italiaans, pg 24 & 72
Author: Antonio Carluccio

Ingredients for 4p:
500g fresh spinach
2 eggs
small amount of freshly grounded nutmeg
1 clove of garlic
5-6 slices of fresh white bread without the crust
50g of grated parmezan or grano padano
50ml of olive oil
salt & pepper

400g of spaghetti (all'uovo if you can find it)
2 cloves of garlic
1 red chilipepper
2 courgettes
20-30ml olive oil
50g of grated parmezan or grano padano

Firstly make the spinachballs (you can even give them straight away to your children, adding spaghetti later).
Wash the spinach, boil it in lightly salted water for 1-2 minutes, drain and cool it. Squeeze the spinach untill you cannot get anymore fluid out of it. (Maybe save the water for a healthy drink?)
Finely cut the leaves and put it in a big bowl. Loosely beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the spinach afterwards. Finely cut the garlic add a tiny bit of salt and rub the garlic into a paste. Add to the big bowl. Pull the bread into fine pieces and add it. Also add the parmezan, nutmeg, some salt & pepper. Mix and make balls from the mixture. (NB, if it is too wet you can add the extra bread)
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the balls and gently fry them golden brown in 4-5 minutes each side. Take out and leave to rest on kitchen paper. (Also possible to keep them warm in the oven if you like)

Cook the spaghetti for 8-10 minutes 'al dente' in plenty of lightly salted water. Catch a bit of the boiled fluid when you drain the spaghetti.
For the sauce grate the courgettes. Finely cut the garlic and chilipepper and gently fry them for about a minute in the oil in a frying pan. Add the grated courgette for 3-4 minutes. Take it off the gas and add the parmezan, season with salt & pepper and mix well. Put it together with the spaghetti and a little bit of the boiled pastafluid. Serve with the spinachballs on top.

Score: General: 3 out of 5, but 5 out of 5 for making the kids eat spinach!
Tip: The spinachballs can also be served chilled as an appetizer. Without the spinachballs this is a really simple and fast pastadish for after a day of work, maybe add some smoked salmon or nuts.
Time: Spinachballs: 20-30minutes, pasta 10-12 minutes
Amount of work vs waiting: high, spinachballs you have some waiting time during frying, but I suggest you keep an eye on the balls. During pasta cooking time you can prep your pastasauce.
Degree of difficulty: Medium
Ideal for: Children's favourite, simple family dinner, appetizer, vegetarian dinner

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