December 18, 2012 by Meg G.
I hope you’re ready for a slew of easy finger food recipes, because this week’s posts will be dedicated to party food. But don’t fret, lovers of sweets – I’ll also be featuring some of the award-winning cookie recipes and my first guest post, a gingerbread house making tutorial from one of my baking idols, Mike Seery! But first things first: balls of goodness.
When you’re expecting a house full of about 20-30 people, finger food is where it’s at. Also, an organized list and a latte.
First on the docket – Greek spinach rice balls and “sausage” cheddar balls – both of which were delicious, easy to make, and a big hit at the party. Here goes!
Greek Spinach Rice Balls – Vegan
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites; makes about 24 Ping-Pong-sized rice balls
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and large stems removed (or frozen, thawed)
- 1 cup chopped scallions (we used onions)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup plain or herbed bread crumbs
- about a 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Get your rice cooking, if it isn’t already cooked.
- Thaw spinach if using frozen; drain and chop.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Lightly sauté your scallions or onions in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, about 5 minutes. If using fresh spinach, add it to the pan to wilt it.
- In a large mixing bowl combine spinach, scallions, rice, dill, lemon juice, and pine nuts, if using. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine with the back of a wooden spoon until the mixture holds together.
- Place breadcrumbs in a bowl or on a plate.
- Spray a large baking sheet or dish with cooking spray. With dampened hands, take a heaping 1/4 cup of the mixture and form into a firm, round ball (like making a snowball!). Roll the ball in the breadcrumbs and place on the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining mixture, placing balls about an inch apart.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes , until the balls are heated through and crisp on the outside.
You can also add some feta to these, but we chose to keep these vegan, since we had a few vegan friends in a attendance. If you do add feta, go a bit easier on the salt.
Heather was the head chef for these and she came up with the brilliant idea of adding some toasted pine nuts. I really like the bit of crunch and flavor that the nuts added. She whipped these up the morning of the party and they came out of the oven about an hour before the guests arrived. They are dairy-free, so we left them at room temperature.
Since there really isn’t a binding agent, these tend to have a bit of trouble holding their form, so putting toothpicks in them was not an option. But guests seemed to make do with their crumbling consistency and the flavors more than made up for it!
“Sausage” Cheddar Balls – Not even close to vegan
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe; makes about 45 balls
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups grated cheddar (1/2 pound)
- 1 pound bulk vegetarian breakfast sausage (we went to three stores to find this, but it should be easier to find; we used Light Life brand and found it in the refrigerated produce section, by the tofu and bean sprouts)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and baking powder.
- Add cheddar and toss to coat.
- Add sausage, onion, and butter.
- With your hands, mix until well combined and roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls, 1/2 inch apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until balls are golden and cooked through, 25 minutes. Serve warm.
For those of you who are suspicious of any food that is presented between quotation marks (and perhaps rightfully so), I recommend you give these a try. They basically taste like sausage and cheddar cheese, with a lot less fat and cholesterol. I don’t think you can go wrong here! But if you’re really into the real stuff, just follow Martha’s original recipe. Many thanks to my friend Jen who recommended trying the veggie sausage version!
We made these right before guests arrived, so they’d still be warm. I actually had a bit of leftover dough, so I made some patties to go with a breakfast for dinner meal that will inevitably happen this week. Leftovers = Smorgasbord Dinners!