Cheese Stuffed Broccoli Balls
Cut off the main stem of the broccoli and separate the florets into bite-sized pieces, then wash thoroughly under cold running water. Steam the broccoli for 15 minutes. It is not necessary that it becomes very soft. Let it stand for a few minutes to drain off any water that may remain trapped in the florets. Using an immersion blender or food processor, mix the broccoli with the egg, salt and pepper until just smooth. Stir in the parmesan and breadcrumbs, taste to check seasoning. If the mixture is too soft, add some more breadcrumbs until firm enough to hold its shape when rolled into balls. Put the mixture in the freezer for 15 minutes to rest, or for longer in the fridge if you are planning to make the broccoli balls later. In the meantime, preheat oven to 200°C (400°F), line a baking sheet with baking paper, and cut the cheese into 20 small cubes. Shape the broccoli mixture into 15 to 20 small balls, placing a piece of cheese into the centre of each one, then rolling them in the remaining breadcrumbs. Place them directly on the prepared baking sheet. When they are ready, using a pastry brush, brush the broccoli balls with a few drops of oil. Cook in the oven for 20–25 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes. Serve the broccoli balls immediately or the cheese will turn solid. This makes an excellent healthy starter, or a main course served in bigger portions, possibly accompanied by a spicy tomato sauce or a Greek yogurt, mustard and chive sauce.
* In the Italian recipe asiago cheese is used due to its low fat content. It has a sweet and nutty flavour that can be more or less pronounced according to how long it has been aged, but it is difficult to find a tasty low-fat substitute for asiago. Other cheeses used for this type of dish are cacciocavallo, scamorza and provola/provolone. As we all know, broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables in existence. It really should be at top of your grocery list with other cruciferous vegetables, if you consider to eat healthily. Though it may not be all people’s favourite, it would be hard to resist it in these tasty veggie balls with its melted cheese centre.