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Fried Greens Meatlessballs

If you have or have had a summer CSA share (I know I talk about them a lot, but I think they’re fantastic and important!!) then you’re no stranger to veggie greens. Beet tops, kale, chard, hakurei turnip tops, carrot tops, onion tops, the list goes on and on of the types of green to be found in each weekly share; it can be a bit much. Until recently I would try my best to sauté them, maybe haul out my juicer and juice them into something more palatable, but occasionally they would be neglected and die in my crisper. Well, no more! Meet the fried greens meatlessball.

This recipe does take some time, so prepare yourself, you’ve got to clean and chop everything (though a food processor would make short work of that) and then there are two separate cooking processes, plus some cooling time in between, but it’s all totally worth it. Mmmm the end result is kind of like a spanakopita, but without the dough. Greens + onion & garlic + herbs + cheese, and then fried = yum. You could probably bake them too, if you're into that kind of thing.

Food 52 recommends making them on a Sunday night and then throughout the week, put them to good use:

  • Mash them up and add them to a quesadilla.

  • Serve them in a dollop of labneh, Greek yogurt, or hummus and with pita on the side.

  • Pack them with grains and a lemony dressing for lunch.

  • Add them to a bowl of pasta that's been sauced with pesto.

  • Wrap them in bacon and give them a bake so the meat crisps up. It's like a party appetizer but for dinner!

  • Eat them straight from the fridge—cold.

  • Use them as dumpling filler: Just wrap in store bought wrappers and pan-fry.

  • Make them into a meatless sub, with mozzarella and tomato sauce

Fried Greens Meatless balls

1 to 1 ½ bunches greens, this is a rough measurement, I know! Think farmers market size bunch (10 cups loosely packed?)

3 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

Salt, to taste

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup cilantro (sub basil, dill or parsley)

1 Tbsp cumin seeds

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (sub 1/3-1/2 cup dried panko breadcrumbs)

¼ cup crumbled feta

1 egg

Oil for frying

Pulse greens in a food processor or finely chop with a knife—they should be small but not puréed or mushy. Set aside.

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. 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. 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. Crack one egg into the bowl and mix with your hands to incorporate. Squeeze a small ball of the mixture. If it holds together, begin portioning out the remaining mixture into small balls. If it doesn't hold together, add another egg. One egg is often enough.

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.

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