“Don’t believe anything you read on the internet!” That’s London-based cooking phenom Izy Hossack, speaking with me on the A Couple Cooks podcast. I had asked her one of my favorite questions to ask guests, which I was asked once in an interview. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
The context: she’s at university studying nutrition science and is passionate about stopping the spread of misinformation by debunking health myths. Health crazes can now spread like wildfire on the internet, from juice cleanses so protein powders to collagen. (She debunks the latter on the podcast.) Her philosophy: sensible, balanced diet of real, whole foods. It’s not a sexy message. It’s not click-bait worthy. But after all of her schooling, real, whole foods win out as the most sensible foods on the planet.
It’s funny how as humans, we gravitate towards a sort of “magic pill” philosophy to health. If we could just figure out the secret, our lives would be glowing, happy, and healthy. So it makes sense that when a health craze comes out, people are quick to jump on the bandwagon. We’ve been doing it for centuries. What Izy’s all about is informed decisions, doing your research, and then taking a balanced approach to everyday cooking.
Her latest cookbook, The Savvy Cook, is all about this philosophy: her recipes use accessible, everyday ingredients to create something delicious and memorable. (We quite like that, since it jives well with our Pretty Simple Cooking philosophy that we share in our soon-to-release book.) It’s full of healthy dinner ideas, quick snacks, and cheeky desserts (love those Brits!), and even a chapter on “template” meals that are easy to customize. Throughout, there are tips on how to reuse leftovers from those recipes in the weeks ahead. And, it’s all written by a college student, so the meals have got to be doable for the student lifestyle.
Paging through the book for healthy dinner ideas, these vegetarian meatballs caught my eye—likely because of our passion for Mediterranean food. They’re made with spinach and feta, and are unlike any other vegetarian meatballs I’ve tasted! Typically vegetarian meatballs Alex and I have tried have a legume like chickpeas or lentils (or some kind of nuts), but these are straight up spinach, feta, egg, oat flour, and dried herbs. The taste? Incredibly savory: almost, dare I say, meaty. They can be baked or pan-fried: we tried both ways, and preferred the baked version a bit better. It’s easier, and the balls keep their round shape. (Pan-frying is quicker, but a little more finicky). The pasta is prepared using an intriguing method: it’s stirred with shredded zucchini, butter, and soy sauce (or tamari). The combination adds a savory, almost cheesy flavor to the recipe. To top it off, we added our own touch: cherry tomatoes from our farmer’s market! I can’t resist using red, orange, and yellow cherry tomatoes in everything we eat lately (you’ll see more, coming soon).
Speaking of Mediterranean food, Izy notes that for leftovers, you can re-purpose these vegetarian meatballs as falafel and use them in a sandwich. That got us thinking that they’d also be great in this Falafel Salad Bowl. It’s got a Creamy Cilantro Dressing that’s to die for (or for vegan, use this Lemon Tahini Dressing).
Hats off to Izy on a stunning book! Make sure to check out her interview over on the podcast (search for “A Couple Cooks” in your podcast app or iTunes, then subscribe).
The featured book
Order The Savvy Cook by Izzy Hossack.
Looking for Mediterranean food recipes?
We’re big fans of Mediterranean food (and Mediterranean travel, of course!). Here are a few recipes for Mediterranean food we’d recommend for this summer:
Looking for healthy dinner ideas?
Who isn’t looking for healthy dinner ideas, these days? A few of our top healthy dinner ideas, again with a summer flair:
Did you make this recipe?
If you make these spinach vegetarian meatballs with spaghetti, we’d love to hear how they turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free. (For vegan, if anyone wants to veganize this, let us know in the comments!)
Spinach Vegetarian Meatballs with Spaghetti
- 14 ounces baby spinach or 9 ounces frozen, cooked spinach, thawed
- ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs
- 1 egg
- ½ cup oat flour (process ½ cup rolled oats in a food processor or blender) or bread crumbs
- ¼ cup olive oil (for cooking, optional)
- 10 ounces dry spaghetti (gluten-free, if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 medium zucchini, shredded
- 5 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- Freshly ground pepper
- If using fresh baby spinach, add to a large saucepan with a small splash of water. Place over medium-low heat and cover with a lid. Cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse under cold running water. Squeeze the spinach out over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop and set aside. (Tip: using frozen spinach helps cut prep time; we’ll try that next time.)
- In a medium bowl, mix the feta, dried herbs, a generous amount of black pepper, the egg, and oat flour or bread crumbles together. Stir in the chopped spinach, then scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. You should get about 20 balls. You can either place them on a baking sheet lined with nonstick parchment paper and bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 20 to 25 minutes, or fry them over medium heat in 2 batches, in 2 tablespoons oil per batch, turning, until golden on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes. (Tip: we tried it both ways, and found the baked version was easiest!)
- Boil the pasta, then drain.
- Return the pasta to the pan off the heat, then stir in the butter, soy sauce, or tamari, and shredded zucchini. Toss with halved cherry tomatoes and serve.