In the summers of 2001 and 2002 I worked in a summer camp near Philadelphia. They were fantastic summers, I met lots of wonderful people. A few of whom of I still manage to see on a fairly regular basis. We all do different things in life and live in different places but we all try to come together every New Years Eve and now it is also becoming tradition to have a holiday in the summer together. Andy's dad has a family apartment in La Manga, Spain and this was our third summer holiday here.
The first summer we came I was one of three vegetarians so that was pretty easy to organize. Last year I was the only vegetarian. This year I have turned vegan much to everyone's surprise, so it has been a bit more difficult.
Every time I arrive in another country the first thing I want to do is to check out the local supermarket. In Spain that used to mean buying tons and tons of sheep's cheese but this time it was really different. As a vegan in touristy Spain there really isn't much packaged convenience food on offer for vegans. At home I buy things like stuffed vine leaves, samosas, tofu, and hummus on a regular basis but here I can't even find hummus! We are in a very resorty kind of place though, I'm sure I could find some of these things elsewhere.
For our first meal Andy wanted to make meat balls in tomato sauce with spaghetti. For my vegan alternative he suggested spinach balls, only the recipe he normally used usually contained parmasean cheese and was bound together by an egg.
I suggested that we use cashews instead of cheese and oil instead of egg and it turned out to make perfectly shaped balls which also contained plenty of protein and were delicious and filling.
500g of fresh spinach
100g of raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp of paprika
Salt and Pepper
A good glug of olive oil
Half a cup of toasted bread crumbs
Boil a couple of inches of water in your biggest saucepan. Tip the spinach in, bring back to the boil and drain in a seive. Set aside to cool.
(At this point I would start making the tomato sauce and come back to this once your sauce is simmering)
Chop cashews coarsely in a food processor (I brought a min one on holiday but you could always put them in a carrier bag and bash them up with a rolling pin or empty wine bottle).
Mince the garlic and stir into bread crumbs with the herbs and spices.
Push the spinach into the sieve with the back of a spoon to get out as much water as possible then squeeze out even more by balling up the spinach in your hands and squeezing as hard as you can.
Mix the spinach with the rest of the mixture and once it is thoroughly mixed in add the oil, stir it up and use the mixture to make balls about the size of a ping pong ball.
Pan fry the balls on a medium heat while the pasta is cooking for about 7 minutes until golden all over and then serve on a pile of spaghetti covered in your favourite tomato sauce. In Spain the fresh tomatoes are blood red so they make the most amazing tomato sauce.
For me, this was the best meal of the entire holiday. Not only was it the most tasty, but I was almost having the same meal as everyone else without too many adjustments, which makes things so much easier and more enjoyable. I'm pretty sure this meal will become a regular week night habit in my kitchen from now on.