When most of us think of Antipasto, we generally think of some Italian salamis, cheeses, olives, marinated artichokes, perhaps tapenade….wonderful, hot bread and butter, bread sticks….but there are others. The word “antipasto” as most of you know, simply means: Before the Pasta! It is a course of itself, and can be almost anything the chef or the Momma chooses to serve!
Today we are going to sample the Italian version of Spinach balls that even those who don’t like to eat spinach will eat willingly.
They make a great appetizer on their own, served on a pretty toothpick with a roasted red pepper aioli, chipotle sauce or sun-dried tomato sauce – or as an “antipasto” to your fave lasagna recipe!
- 1/4 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 c minced onion
- 3 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1-1/2 c Arborio rice (also called risotto rice)
- 1 c white wine
- 4 c vegetable broth, heated
- 1-1/2 c grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 c frozen, chopped spinach
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp. chopped, fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 c all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 c Panko crumbs
- canola or peanut oil
Heat olive oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until they are soft but not brown. Add rice and wine; cook until liquid is reduced. Add broth by thirds, reducing each time until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally.
Stir in grated cheese, spinach and butter until well blended. Add basil, nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste. Place in a container, cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
In a shallow bowl, combine flour and cayenne, whisking to mix well. Place eggs and Panko crumbs in separate bowls.
Roll the spinach mixture into 1″ balls or use an ice cream scoop. Dip balls in flour then egg and then in crumbs. Place on a cookie sheet.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4″ of canola or peanut oil to 350. Fry the spinach balls until golden brown on all sides. Remove and place on a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. Serve hot.
If you prefer, they can be baked at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.