Spinach – a vegetable so unpleasant that only Popeye himself can convince kids to eat it. The mere mention of spinach is enough to turn any child’s face from glee to immediate disgust, and not many how many promises of bulging muscles you give, kids refuse to give in. But have no fear, we’re here to save the day with some kid-friendly, spinach-packed recipes that’ll be ready in no time at all.
These make the perfect little appetizer or snack that no one will be able to keep their hands off of!
Cheesy Spinach Bites
Cooking spray or butter
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 Medium onion
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 2 Large eggs
- 1 Cup Lowfat cottage cheese
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 Cups Spinach
- 1/4Teaspoon Salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dice onion and mince garlic. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray, or butter; then set aside.
- Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until cooked through and caramelized – about 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs together in a bowl.
- Add eggs, cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, and onion/garlic mixture to a food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Pour egg mixture into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and eggs are golden on top.
A foolproof method to get your kids to eat an ingredient they won’t otherwise touch is to disguise it in pasta and cheese. Spinach is no exception, and these are impossible to resist no matter how old you are.
Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells in Marinara Sauce
16 Jumbo pasta shells (cook a couple of extra shells in case some break while the pasta cooks)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 Teaspoons Garlic – minced
- 4 Cups Spinach leaves – packed fresh, roughly chopped
- 12 Ounces Ricotta cheese (1 ½ cups)
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese – shredded
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese – grated, plus more for garnish
- 1 Large egg
- 1 Tablespoon Italian parsley – finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Basil – finely chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 3 cups marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F degrees. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta al-dente, about 9 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain pasta and place shells on a sheet pan and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about one minute. Add the spinach and cook, occasionally stirring , until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. Pour the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow baking dish that can hold 16 shells (8-inch by 8-inch or 7-inch by 11-inch works well). Transfer cheese filling into a large re-sealable plastic bag or piping bag. Cut off the edge of the bag, and pipe each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.
- Cover the shells with aluminum foil and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking until the sauce begins the bubble, about 5 minutes. Serve warm with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Finally, we’ve got a delicious Spanakopita recipe that’s crispy & flaky on the outside, with a warm, gooey, spinach-ricotta filling. And it’s super easy too!
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 lb. baby spinach
- 1/2 lb. feta, crumbled (scant 2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 10 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook spinach, stirring, until wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, about 10 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop. Transfer to a bowl and stir in feta, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Melt remaining 1 stick butter in a small saucepan, then cool.
- Cover phyllo stack with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and then a dampened kitchen towel.
- Take 1 phyllo sheet from stack and arrange on a work surface with a long side nearest you (keeping remaining sheets covered) and brush with some butter. Top with another phyllo sheet and brush with more butter. Cut buttered phyllo stack crosswise into 6 (roughly 12- by 2 3/4-inch) strips.
- Put a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of a strip on end nearest you, then fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip (like a flag), maintaining triangle shape. Put triangle, seam side down, on a large baking sheet and brush top with butter. Make more triangles in same manner, using all of phyllo.
- Bake triangles in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
And there you have it – 3 kid-friendly spinach recipes that even the pickiest of eaters will love!
For more ideas on how to introduce your family to new and unique ingredients, check out Chefs Plate’s Family Plan Menu!