Spinach & goat's cheese croquettes from the Basque region.

A Spanish flavour to this recipe from the Basque region, spinach and goat's cheese croquettes or croquetas, depending on what side of the border you're standing on! I love eating tapas or Mediterranean meze style, lots of little dishes, packed with flavour and variety. This dish perfectly marries the creaminess of the goat's cheese with the the earthy freshness of the spinach, all wrapped up in a crunchy bite sized croqueta. For around 30- 35 croquettes (depending on the size), you will need:

  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) baby leaf spinach
  • 400ml (13 fl oz) milk (full fat is better)
  • 100ml (3½ fl oz) vegetable stock
  • 80g (3 oz) butter
  • 125g (4 oz) plain flour
  • 80g (3 oz) goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 125g (4 oz) breadcrumbs
  • olive oil for deep-frying
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg for seasoning

Wilt the spinach (3-4 minutes) over a medium-high heat in a pan with a tiny splash of water, then run under cold water. Once cold, squeeze out all the water. Chop finely and set aside.

Heat the milk and the stock together. Make a roux by melting the butter over a medium heat, adding the flour and cooking for 2–3 minutes. When the mixture starts to turn brown, begin adding the milk and stock very slowly until you get a really silky-smooth mix. This should take around 10 minutes. Add the cheese to the mixture slowly, then add the spinach and stir constantly until it is well combined. Season with salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg.

Spread the mixture onto a shallow tray and press a sheet of cling film over the top. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Put some oil in the palm of your hand and roll the mixture into 30 g (1 oz) balls. This will be easier to do if they are properly chilled, so if they are a little soft, pop them on a tray in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

Place the beaten egg and the breadcrumbs into two separate bowls. Dip the balls first into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs to cover. Heat the oil to 180°C  and fry the croquettes for around 2 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, then I defy you not to eat them straight away!