Fried Greens Meatlessballs

Photo by Alexandra Stafford
Author Notes

This recipe is a godsend to anyone who belongs to a CSA or tends a prolific garden. Any greens—beet, turnip, kale, chard, mustard, etc.—can be used here. I've even made these with a mix of the green tops from my CSA carrots and onions. The recipe comes from Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell, who notes that these "hot little balls make a nice snack or appetizer, but are also good later, to eat at room temperature out of hand on the go." I find them completely irresistible.

A few notes: The recipe calls for a bunch of chard or kale, washed and sautéed until tender, then chopped fine. You can do this ahead (as suggested in the book), or you can incorporate this step into the recipe, as I've done below: Simply add the greens to the pan after the cilantro, cumin, and garlic have been sautéed.

I like to give my greens a quick pulse in the food processor. The greens need to be chopped finely at some point, and I find it easier to do it before they are sautéed. You could chop them finely by hand, too.

Finally, basil or parsley can be substituted for the cilantro. —Alexandra Stafford

  • Serves 3 to 4 as an appetizer
  • 1 bunch greens, about 10 cups loosely packed, about 8 oz, see notes above
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • oil for frying
In This Recipe
  1. Pulse greens in a food processor or finely chop with a knife—they should be small but not puréed or mushy. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Add greens to pan and sauté for a minute or two, until they have wilted. Turn the mixture into a large bowl.
  4. 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. I usually find one egg to be enough.
  5. 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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    Aura Navarro
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.