It seems that Fall brings out the need in me to eat comfort foods as if I am preparing to hibernate for the winter and I start pulling out some of my Mother’s tried and true recipes that I remember from childhood.
My Mom was so clever with her meal plans and could take the same simple ingredients and make so many different meals that you never got tired or bored with any dinner she prepared.
Take a simple ingredient like ground beef for instance. Mom made fabulous meatballs, meatloaf with a perfect blend of spices and a sweet glaze, excellent hamburgers and my all time favorite was spinach croquettes.
A simple mix of onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and ground beef with chopped spinach and stuffed with fresh mozzarella. It was delicious.
As the weather gets cooler, I crave some of my Mom’s Fall dishes, so tonight I decided to make Moms “spinach croquettes”.
I paired the croquettes with a salad of mixed greens and sliced pears, some chopped walnuts, grape tomatoes, fennel slices (LOVE that licorice flavor of fennel and it’s good for digestion too) and dressed the salad with a nice fruity olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple and delicious.
This was a very comforting and delicious meal for us. My recipes for the spinach croquettes and basic salad dressing are below.
I hope you try this dish sometime this Fall and please let me know what you think.
(1 ½ – 2 lbs.) Ground turkey or beef, or combination beef/pork
1 small onion, diced (shallots can be substituted)
Salt & Pepper
No salt organic seasoning (Kirkland brand from Costco is the best) – optional
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp fresh parsley
Fresh mozzarella, diced in small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten for the meat mixture
10 oz pkg chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained*
(* To drain spinach completely—after the package is thawed, place spinach in a dish towel and ring the towel out and release all the liquid)
Cooks Note: you can use fresh spinach (approx. 2 fresh bunches) if you prefer. DIRECTIONS BELOW.
For the Breading:
3 eggs lightly beaten
Cornflake or panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
- 2 tbsp. olive oil for the baking sheet
In a large bowl, mix seasoned breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, onion, no-salt seasoning, salt, and pepper ……
Cooks Note: if you are using fresh spinach, you must follow this step before continuing. * wash and drain the spinach…. *heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add a few cloves of garlic and cook for 1 minutes, then ADD spinach *Season with salt and pepper and saute until the spinach wilts. * Transfer to a colander and with the back of a large serving spoon, push down on the spinach and release the excess moisture. * transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes to cool…..Once this step is completed, continue with directions.
ADD ground meat to the dry ingredients in step 1 and ADD, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 slightly beaten egg. Add the drained spinach and gently mix the meat and seasonings –do not overwork the meat.
Make ¼ cup size meatballs and put a small cube of mozzarella inside, close and form into an oval croquette shape…complete forming all croquettes before the next step…. OR if you don’t want to stuff each croquette, toss meat mixture with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella before forming croquettes.
In a breading tray mix 3 slightly beaten eggs with ¼ cup milk (add additional salt and pepper if desired),
2nd breading tray, mix cornflake or panko crumbs (add additional grated cheese & parsley if desired)
Dip the croquettes in breadcrumbs, egg mixture and then back to breadcrumbs and place on a cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil. Let croquettes sit for 5 minutes.
Broil for 10 minutes, flip and broil for 5-7 minutes longer until golden brown
(Optional: light fry in a sauté pan before the broiler to get a crispier breadcrumb……I usually do this step).
Serve as is or with your favorite barbecue sauce of brown gravy. Enjoy!
Basic Salad Dressing
To make the salad dressing, combine…
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- Fine sea salt
In a screw top jar. Close the jar tightly and shake well to combine all ingredients.
Cooks Note: Whenever I add delicate fruit that can oxidize (such as pears or apples or even fennel) to a salad, I place juice from half a lemon in the salad bowl and toss to coat in the lemon juice. This prevents oxidation or browning and makes your salad look so much better.
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!
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