Greens “meat”balls

Inspired by Trader Joe’s frozen-aisle spinach and kale bites, this is a healthy and fresh version.

This makes about 3 to 4 portions as an appetizer.


This recipe was developed by Vanessa Oliver, MS., R.D., L.D.

1 bunch greens, about 10 cups loosely packed, about 8 oz.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
Salt, to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup panko
¼ cup crumbled feta
¼ cup softened cream cheese (low-fat cream cheese can be substituted)
2 eggs


  1. If baking, preheat oven to 350.
  2. Pulse greens in a food processor or finely chop with a knife—they should be small but not puréed or mushy. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the oil, onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, cilantro, and cumin seeds. Stir for 30 seconds. Add greens to pan and sauté for a minute or two, until they have wilted.
  5. Turn the mixture into a large bowl. Let cool for five minutes, then add the breadcrumbs and feta. Mix well, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary—this is your chance to get the seasoning right while the mixture is egg-free. Shape into golfball-sized balls.
  6. IF FRYING: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add balls to pan—they should sizzle when they hit the oil—then turn heat down to medium or medium-low. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Use a fork to flip the balls to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
  7. IF BAKING: Place balls on a parchment lined baking sheet or use aluminum foil sprayed with pan spray. For extra browning potential, drizzle balls with extra olive oil (optional). Bake balls for 15 minutes. Take pan out of oven, turn balls over, and bake another 10-15 minutes until brown and cooked through.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature, on toothpicks if you like, with a dipping sauce of your choice.

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