Monday, February 25, 2008

Party Bites: Spinach Parmesan Balls

When bringing food to a cocktail party, you have to keep in mind a couple of things: the food should be easy to eat (ideally, finger food or food on a toothpick) and it should pose no major threat to fancy clothing (or the host's floor!).

I almost always consider the simplicity factor: how else will I find time to spruce up my appearance for the party?

Ariel had a great party Saturday night, to which I brought a virgin recipe: Spinach Parmesan Balls. I found it on the Food Network website.

It received pretty great reviews at the party! Samantha even asked me for the recipe (always a high compliment). So, the recipe follows. I substituted butter for margarine, which didn't seem to cause the balls to suffer (no surprise there).

The Food Network recipe recommends using latex gloves when mixing and handling the mixture (probably due to the raw eggs), but I didn't. I don't really have a phobia with handling gooey stuff (it actually feels good to me). As long as you give your hands a good wash afterward (and don't lick your fingers), you'll be fine.

Spinach Parmesan Balls
Recipe courtesy of Dan Smith and Steve McDonaugh of the Food Network show "Party Line with the Hearty Boys"

2 10-oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
5 eggs
2 small onions, minced
10 TBSP butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 3/4 cups Italian-style bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

Squeeze the excess water from the spinach by wrapping it in an old towel (or a couple of heavy-duty paper towels will work), then put it in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well by hand (this part is fun! It feels really nice to get your hands in all that goo. But be sure to wash your hands well afterward).

Form the mixture into 1-inch balls, either by hand or with a small ice cream scoop. Place the balls closely together on a baking sheet.

Cook in the top half of the oven until firm to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, and then transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Yields about 35 balls, depending on how big you make them.