I encountered spinach bites for the first time a couple weeks ago at my foster’s son birthday party, when guest Sarah Oudman brought them as a side dish to share. They were so good, I asked Sarah to make them again for my son Asher’s birthday party a week later.
One great thing about this recipe is that you can make these little morsels ahead of time, then bake them right before eating. If you’re taking this dish to a get-together, Sarah suggests putting them in a pre-heated crock-pot for the trip. Just make sure you don’t forget the corresponding condiments! She recommends ranch or Caesar dressing, your favorite mustard, her homemade jalapeno-red pepper relish, and—one of my favorites—Thai style chili sauce, which I found in aisle 5 at Rensselaer’s Strack and Van Til.
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Next, break out your food processor—or, for little more fun, grab a meat tenderizer and plastic bag. It’s cracker-crushing time!
After placing about 2/3 package of Wasa light rye crisps (purchased at Tysens in DeMotte) in a freezer-quality gallon bag, I handed over the tenderizer to my boys and let them take turns pounding the crackers. They had a lot of fun, but—surprise, surprise—we ended up with a hole in the bag and a mess of crumbs on the table. Another option is to use the food processor (you’ll need it out for the spinach anyway) and involve any small helpers you have around by letting them push the button on the processor.
Put the crushed crackers in a large mixing bowl, then starting filling your food processor with fresh spinach. You’ll need about ½ pound (one gallon bag’s worth from your share), so unless you have a ginormous food processor, you should do this part in batches. Make sure the spinach is finely chopped, then add it to the mixing bowl with the crackers.
Next up are the onion, pepper, and garlic. I used a chef’s knife to chop these because I wanted a little more control of their shape, but you could use a food processor here as well—just don’t get carried away! Once these veggies are finely chopped, toss them into the mixing bowl with the spinach and crackers.
Grate about 1/2 cup of fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese, set aside a few tablespoons, and toss the rest in the bowl. Throw in some seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce, then stir everything together until the ingredients are well-blended. Beat three small eggs together, pour into the mixing bowl and, using your hands, mix together really, really well.
You’re almost finished! Form into 1-inch balls, bigger or smaller, depending on your preference, and place on a baking sheet or preheated stone. Then sprinkle the tops with the reserved cheese.
Pop these guys in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops just begin to brown. I recommend inviting someone over at this point, since your kitchen’s going to smell delicious. Serve this snack warm (not hot), with sauces on the side. Enjoy!
Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma