This is the first time I’ve had GREEN tomatoes in my life! Yes, my whole life. Say, WHAT?!? I actually got these beautiful green tomatoes from Travis’ family in Ohio at VanScoy Farms. They always have the tastiest veggies at the farm that make family gatherings that much better. I’m pretty sure my sister-in-law has renounced eating any cucumber that’s not from VanScoy Farms. Ok, ok. She hasn’t gone that far but her struggle is real. And I totally agree. Fruits and vegetables from ANY farm or local farmer’s market are worth a shot. They will change your life and the way you think of food. That’s one reason I love late spring and summer so much! Also, summer break from school. I’m just being real.
This recipe is a good introduction to these mysterious green vegetables. Or maybe tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables…this debate never seems to end but I think they’re fruit. I’ll stick with fruit. You can correct me if I’m wrong. Anyways, the perfect part is that since green tomatoes have a little more structure to them and are a little less ripe than red tomatoes, they hold up to being fried like they were made for it!
I’m pretty sure the fried green tomatoes would have been devoured all by themselves, but Travis and I had to add some hot sauce and ranch dressing to bring these little guys to the next level. I’m not even sure that either of those are “traditional” pairings for fried green tomatoes. Whether or not, definitely worth a try. They were AMAZING!
Sometimes fried foods can seem heavy and just unhealthy. First of all, the coating is light but *super* crispy thanks to the cornmeal and panko breadcrumb combo. Also, the tomatoes are only fried briefly since it’s just to cook the coating really. So don’t you worry, the tomatoes remain fresh tasting and delicious despite the panic the word “fried” can bring. Don’t panic, friends. Just try it.
I’m oh-so-sorry that it’s been awhile since my last post. These past couple of weeks have been filled with lots of activities including a long-awaited friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh (Yay for seeing friends from all around the country!!), an unexpected family gathering, and a surprise trip with my parents (surprise for them, not us) to a cabin in Ohio. All this among the general craziness of the last few weeks of the school year. Whew! Am I tired? Yes. Does a delicious spinach artichoke cheese ball make up for it? ABSOLUTELY!
This was a bit of an experiment that turned out wonderfully! I love spinach artichoke dip…love, love, LOVE. I also love cheese balls. There’s no other way to explain how this recipe came to be but that I love them both and wanted them at the same time. Hence, the spinach artichoke cheese ball.
You definitely need to refrigerate the cheese ball before serving if you want it to hold its shape. Otherwise you’ll end up with more of a thick dip. I’m totally cool with that too. Just giving you all a heads up so that when you choose not to read the recipe all the way through I’m not responsible for the fact that you have 5 minutes until the party and a cheese ball that’s more of blob. But hey, it would be a delicious blob!
Also, just as an FYI, it helps to chop the spinach and artichokes into small pieces. Even though they are cooked briefly, it will make scooping SO much easier if they are chopped up well. There’s nothing worse than a long string of spinach that just does not want to be scooped up with a chip. Okay, yes, there is probably something worse than that but I’m going for dramatic effect here. Plus, you might as well not find out so…chop, chop!
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and artichoke hearts and saute approximately 2 minutes.
Add the spinach and salt and pepper. You don't need much salt because the Parmesan cheese will add salt as well. Saute until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool.
Cream the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.
Stir in the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and spinach mixture until combined.
Crisscross 2 pieces of plastic wrap on top of each other and place the cheese mixture in the middle.
Using the plastic wrap, shape the cheese mixture into a ball (making sure to cover the cheese ball completely with the plastic wrap). Place the cheese ball in a small bowl to help hold its shape.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to one day to set.
Serve with crackers or chips.
Make sure to chop the spinach and artichoke hearts into fairly small pieces, since it will be easier to scoop up with a cracker or chip when there are smaller pieces.
The longer you leave the cheese ball in the fridge, the more firm it will set. Without refrigeration the cheese ball is a bit loose.
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