These are lovely, light spinach and nutmeg polpette to serve with spaghetti and a quick tomato sauce. But if you want a lighter meal they are just as good with some quinoa and a shock of green salad. I use vegetarian-friendly Parmesan here, but if you can't get your hands on that, any vegetarian hard cheese will do the trick. For vegans a spoonful of nutritional yeast will echo the flavour of the Parmesan but you will need to add a few more breadcrumbs or oats.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (150 votes)


Spinach polpette

  • 250 g spinach
  • 100 g cooked Puy lentis
  • 1 free-range or organic egg
  • good grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 50 g wholemeal breadcrumbs or oats
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese (I use a vegetarian one)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest grated
  • 1 garlic clove


  • 300 g spaghetti of your choice (I use wholemeal)
  • handful of almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • small bunch of fresh basil
  • 350 g cherry tomatoes

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. Fill and boil a kettle and get all your ingredients together.

Wash the spinach and remove any tough stalks. Place a large frying pan on a high heat and, when it’s hot, add the spinach and dry-fry until wilted and any water has evaporated.

Drain the lentils well if you are using tinned, then put them into a blender and blitz until they are mushy. Add the egg, nutmeg, breadcrumbs or oats, Parmesan, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Chop the garlic and add this too. Blitz until combined, then remove from the food processor and fold in the spinach.

Divide the mixture into four. From each quarter make 8 small balls. You should end up with 32 balls, each roughly 3 cm in diameter. Place on a baking tray and put into the oven for 15-20 minutes, until crisp and golden.

To make the sauce, put the almonds, garlic and olive oil in a food processor. Blitz to a coarse texture then add the zest and juice of the lemon, the basil leaves and the cherry tomatoes. Blitz again until you have a rough pesto, then season well with salt and pepper.

When the polpette have had 10 minutes, fill a large pan with boiling water, add salt and once at a rolling boil add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions (usually about 8 minutes).

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Add the pesto and mix well, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen if needed. Tangle the tomatoey pasta into bowls and top with the spinach polpette and a little more Parmesan, if you like.


Recipe and image from A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones (HarperCollins Publishers, $49.99, hbk).


View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.