Strozzapreti is an Italian dish I learned while working in a Tuscan guesthouse under the direction of an amazing cook. These spinach and cheese dumplings make great appetizers and as I found out this past weekend, a spectacular brunch item. I brought this dish to a ladies potluck brunch and as you can see from the picture above, it was a hit! All the ladies loved them and they have aptly changed the name from strozzapreti to “amaze balls”. I have to agree, they are pretty amazing. You can’t help but want to put at least one or two of these balls in your mouth. Speaking of which:
Strozzapreti literally translates to “priest choker”. I cannot confirm the story behind their name other than the possibility that they are so delicious, if eaten too quickly, one might choke. Or perhaps it’s because they are sinfully delicious? Oh yes, that could definitely be it…
For this recipe, I use frozen spinach and I have been asked if fresh spinach could be used instead. I’m sure it can be however I’ve personally never done it. The recipe calls for 3 pounds which is quite a voluminous fresh amount. Also, the spinach mixture can’t exude too much moisture or else the balls will fall apart before they make it in your mouth! I have tried making these gluten free, using rice flour, and they paled in comparison to the original. If anyone successfully adapts this recipe using fresh spinach or finds a comparable gluten free alternative, I’d love to learn your strategy!
For the sake of ease, I use three 1 pound bags of frozen spinach and take them out of the freezer to thaw at least 8 hours before I start prepping. This recipe is really quite easy and fun, especially if you like getting your hands covered in gooey goodness!
Strozzapreti aka Amaze Balls
Prep time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 35 amaze balls
3 pounds of thawed (previously frozen) spinach
3 cloves chopped garlic
15 ounces fresh ricotta
1 pastured egg
½ cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup chopped fresh sage
8 ounces grass fed butter
2 cups fresh shredded parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put thawed spinach into a colander and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl and add the chopped garlic, ricotta, egg, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Using a spoon, stir until well combined.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish and using your hands, roll the mixture into 1¾” balls and place them in pan. Usually, I can perfectly fit about 35 balls in a dish.
After all your balls are rolled and ready, put the dish in the oven and set your timer to 35 minutes.
In the meantime, chop the sage, shred the parm, and cube the butter. When about 10 minutes remain, add the sage and butter to a saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter is melted.
After the 35 minutes is up, remove the dish from the oven, spoon the sage butter mixture evenly over the balls, and then cover with shredded parmesan. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes.
When time’s up, remove the dish from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
You can enjoy them as is or eat them atop a slice of ciabatta bread. Either way, enjoy them to the last buttery drop!