Double Greens Polpette With Pumpkin Seed Pesto

By Anna Jones

Perfect food for when the evenings are getting lighter and the promise of spring seems not to far away.

Photography by John Dale

When I did a cookery series for BBC2, I had the luxury of working with an exceptional team of people. One of them was the very talented and lovely Anna Jones. A cook, writer and food stylist, she brings a fresh ease to vegetarian cookery, ready to be discovered by many when her book, “A Modern Way To Eat”, is published by Fourth Estate in June.
Here is her Spinach Polpette recipe. Like her, divine.

  • Serves: 4


For the spinach polpette

  • 500g of spinach or spring greens, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 free range or organic eggs
  • 100g of breadcrumbs (I use a good sourdough)
  • 50g of grated pecorino
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • a clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a red chilli, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil

For the pesto

  • a small bunch of basil
  • a bunch of mint
  • 1 red chilli
  • 50g of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • the juice of ½ a lemon
  • a good grating of pecorino (25g)
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 200g quinoa
  • More fresh mint and basil leaves
  • finely chopped chilli
  • more pecorino or Parmesan


  1. For the spinach polpette, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the spinach, cook for a couple of minutes until wilted then put into a mixing bowl to cool a little. Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, pecorino, nutmeg, garlic and red chilli. Season and mix well.
  2. Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and place onto a baking tray and pop into the fridge for a few minutes. Preheat your oven to 200C.
  3. Put the quinoa 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.
  4. Bake the polpette in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and sizzling.
  5. Next make your pesto all the pesto ingredients into a food processor add some salt and pepper and whizz until you have a deep green paste. You can also use a pestle and mortar here. Once the quinoa is cooked mix through half the pesto.
  6. Serve the polpette on a pile of quinoa with the remaining pesto drizzled over the top. Finish with more herbs, chopped chilli and pecorino if you like.

Anna Jones is a cook, stylist and writer.

One grey, late-for-work day, she decided to quit her office job after reading an article about following your passion by which bit of the newspaper you read first.

Within days, she had a place on the training programme at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London. After earning her stripes there, she went to chef at Le Caprice in London and also cooked in Spain and the Chianti fields of Tuscany. She then returned to the Jamie Oliver family to work as his food stylist, writer and food creative on books, TV shows and food campaigns. During that time, she cooked in all sorts of places, from East End school kitchens and Sydney beaches to American Indian reservations. She helped shape up the fattest town in America, led cooking classes at the TED talks and cooked for rock stars, royalty and the G20 at Downing Street.

After seven incredible years at Jamie Oliver, Anna now works independently as a stylist and food writer in London. She has worked with some of the best-loved cooks and chefs of our time, from Antonio Carluccio to Yotam Ottolenghi, Sophie Dahl to the Fabulous Baker Brothers. She has also worked with some of the country’s biggest food brands, including Daylesford, Leon and innocent drinks, for whom she wrote the book Hungry?

Anna believes that vegetables should be put at the centre of every table, and is devoted to helping people make a long-term commitment to eating well and feeling amazing. She is led by the joy of food – the spritz of freshness when you peel an orange or the crackle and waft of deep savoury spice when you add curry leaves to a pan of hot oil – and thinks that healthy eating is as much about pleasure as anything else.

Anna writes regular columns for The Guardian Cook and The Pool. She lives, writes and cooks in Hackney, East London. For examples of her styling work, please click here.