A few weekends ago, my husband and I kicked off the beginning of the college football season by inviting some friends over to hang out, eat some delicious food, and watch some Michigan football (we will not discuss the fact that that game also necessitated heavy beer drinking). As with most gatherings we have with our friends, everyone brought a dish or two to share with everyone, and we all feasted on a smorgasbord of delicious appetizers and finger foods. Amongst the Wolverines in attendance was my dear friend Andrea, whom I met living in the dorms as a freshman in college – and she brought these amazing, delicious ricotta and spinach balls. They were baked in a simple marinara sauce, served on their own, and they were delightfully cheesy, gooey, and amazing. Needless to say, I requested that she send me the recipe ASAP.
As luck would have it, that recipe has been burning a hole in my virtual recipe box ever since, because… my damn oven broke. Not so much the OVEN, as the buttons that control it, which is equally as problematic. I spent several days poking at the buttons futilely, and finally decided to suck it up and call a repairman, so that I might be able to BAKE things, once again. And today, the repairman came to my house… and all the buttons that control the oven were functioning perfectly. OF COURSE THEY WERE. So, 30 minutes and $65 later, my oven was declared to be in perfectly good working condition, and about an hour after that, I was at Trader Joe’s picking up the rest of the supplies I needed to make the ricotta and spinach balls. And my oven continues to work perfectly. OF COURSE IT DOES.
Spaghetti with Ricotta and Spinach Balls
1 pound of spaghetti
1 jar of marinara sauce (or you can make your own, if you’d prefer)
15 oz ricotta cheese
6 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
one 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except the marinara and spaghetti, with a spatula, making sure everything is well-combined.
2.) Line a baking dish with foil (easy clean-up!), and pour about 1/4 of your marinara into the bottom of the dish. Roll the ricotta mixture into golf ball sized balls, and place them in the baking dish as you go. Top the balls with another 1/4 of the sauce, and bake for 30 minutes.
3.) While the balls bake, cook your spaghetti in well-salted water until al dente. Drain it and return it to the pot, then top it with the remaining marinara, and mix until all the noodles are lightly coated in sauce.
4.) Portion the pasta out into bowls, and top each serving with 3 or 4 ricotta balls. Top with additional grated parmesan if you want!
As much as I know this will make Crist cringe, this is a fantastic meatless meal! It’s hearty and cheesy and delicious, and you won’t even miss the meat. Not to mention, it’s packed with spinach and tomatoes, which are… full of nutrients and stuff, I feel quite certain.
So my oven will stop working again tomorrow, right?