Spinach Balls in Tomato Sauce

I have been making this recipe for years.  I love it.  It's not as easy as throwing green beans in a pan to saute so I don't make it every week.  If I had extra freezer space I would make these by the dozens and freeze them -- sigh, some day.  Even still, I do make these little tasty cuties every few months when I get "vegetable burn out."  You know what I mean, right? When you're tired of all the usual suspects and want something different.  Well, this is it. The cure to "vegetable burn out." (Adapted from Reader's Digest Great Recipes for Good Health pg. 198, copyright 1988)

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Spinach Balls in Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (use alternative choice to adhere to South Beach principles)
1/2 of a large yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup, divided)
1 lb of fresh spinach or one 1 lb. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
1 tablespoon of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of lemon rind zest
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, divided
1 large egg
1 can (8 ounces) no salt added tomato sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil

1) Chop onion and divide in two 1/2 cup measurements.

2) Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat in large skillet; add half the onions, and cook uncovered until soft, about 5 minutes.

3)  Using a garlic press, add 2 cloves of garlic on top of the onions and add fresh chopped spinach or squeezed dried thawed spinach.  Stir and saute for 2 minutes, or until wilted (if fresh), and just dry.

4) Remove spinach from heat.  Grate lemon rind over the spinach; grate cheese over the spinach; add breadcrumbs, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and 1 egg.

5) Mix all the ingredients until blended.  Make 16 balls by hand, dividing mixture in half, and those two halves in half, and those halves in half again, and so on until you have eight portions.  Divide each of the eight portions in half rolling each half into a ball and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes or until ready to bake.  (I have left them in the refrigerator up to 4 hours).

6) While the spinach balls are in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the second half of onion, and cook uncovered until soft about 5 minutes.

7)  Add the remaining garlic and pepper.  Pour the tomato sauce into the sauce pan along with the beef broth and basil.  Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

8)  While tomato sauce is cooking put spinach balls into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

9)  After 30 minutes add spinach balls to the sauce pan and serve.


  1. I made this tonight! I chose this recipe because it seemed far healthier compared to others I've found on the internet - less cheese! I followed the spinach balls to a tee, but chose to use a bottled tomato sauce I love and didn't augment with the suggest onions and garlic. This was a crowd favorite and I'll be making it for a very long time. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I haven't made these in quite a while. It makes me want to make them again myself! THANKS.


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