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Spinach and lemon polpette

If you thought trying to eat more greens meant a choice between goat's cheese tart or mushroom risotto then think again.

Stepping into the kitchen for the first time is chef Anna Jones, she's pushing the vegetarian repertoire to new heights with a recipe for spinach and lemon polpette.

Serves: 4


250g spinach
100g cooked Puy lentils
1 free-range or organic egga good grating of fresh nutmeg
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs or oats50g vegetarian Parmesan style cheese (regular Parmesan is not suitable for vegetarians- and vegetarian hard cheese will work)zest of 1 unwaxed lemon1 clove of garlic

For the sauce

a handful of almonds
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon
a small bunch of fresh basil350g cherry tomatoes

For the grain

200g Pearl barley or Quinoa More fresh mint and basil leavesFinely chopped chilliMore vegetarian Parmesan style cheese


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400f/gas 6. 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 the size of a £2 coin. 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 like sauce, then season well with salt and pepper.

Get the pearl barley cooking. Rinse it well under cold water, then put it into a pan with twice the amount of water, a good pinch of salt, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, then put the squeezed lemon half into the pan. Cook for about 25 minutes. Once the barley is cooked, drain it and add a little sauce and mix well.

If using quinoa, place in a pan with twice the amount of water and a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Serve the polpette on a pile of barley with the remaining sauce drizzled over the top. Finish with more herbs, chopped chilli and cheese if you like.

Anna Jones is the Soil Association’s Ambassador for this year’s BOOM Awards - the Best of Organic Market Awards

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