These vegetarian polpette are airy and light, yet comfortably nourishing. 






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (12 votes)

Would you believe me if I said that my middle name is Popeye? It actually is. I had such wide shoulders when I was born that my parents thought that giving me the name of the spinach-loving sailor, was fitting. Little did they realise how that name would grow to suit me as I became a vegetable advocate and spinach lover (still not entirely there with the tattoo and biceps though).

We often steal a few polpette straight from the baking tray, but they are even better served tangled in linguine or courgette (zucchini) noodles with tomato sauce poured over. - David


  • 100 g (3½ oz/ cup) sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) cooked quinoa (Quick Quinoa page 31)
  • 250 g (8¾ oz) fresh ricotta
  • 100 g (3½ oz/2 cups) baby spinach or regular spinach, stems removed
  • 1 handful (25 g/¾ oz) fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • courgette (zucchini) noodles or cooked pasta of choice
  • 3 cups  (720 ml/24 fl oz) tomato sauce
  • freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan
  • pine nuts, toasted
  • torn fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas mark 6) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place the sunflower seeds in a food processor and blend until the texture resembles coarse flour. Add the rest of the polpette ingredients, season to taste and blend until smooth. Dip two spoons (or your hands) into hot water and shake off the excess water. Take a generous scoop of the polpette mix, and pass the mixture repeatedly between the spoons, turning and smoothing each side until a neat quenelle or ball is formed. Transfer to the baking tray and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked and golden with a crispy outside.

Serve on top of courgette noodles or pasta with tomato sauce. Top with cheese, pine nuts, basil, seasoning and a drizzle of oil.



• For a nut-free alternative, replace the pine nuts with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.


Recipe from Green Kitchen At Home by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl (Hardie Grant Books, hb, $39.99). Photography © David Frenkiel. Read our chat with David here