My children will not eat spinach. Spinach however is a leafy green I happen to care very much about since it is low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. Despite my attachment to this vegetable, I am not bothered in the least by their refusal to eat it for two reasons. The first one is that there are many things I despised as a child and now love: apples, nuts, coconut, broccoli, pineapple, witlof and Brussel sprouts. Bar the Brussel sprouts, my children happily eat all of these, so no worries there. The second reason I am not worried about this incessant refusal to eat those luscious green leaves is because, without knowing it, (please excuse the evil grin that is starting to appear on my face).... they eat them already. Quite regularly in fact. And what's more... they love it.
For quite some time now, I have taken to hiding spinach in all sorts of dishes. It all started with a pleasing recipe for Greek spinach pies I came across on the internet. I tweaked it here and there, renamed the content (from 'spinach' to 'parsley') and they were an instant hit with the kids. In fact, now they even request them. But don't they notice the spinach?!? I can hear you thinking. Well, yes. Sometimes they are even downright suspicious. The suspicion and renaming started when my son was eyeing a strand of spinach hanging out of one of the pies. After eyeing the offending entity carefully he winced and said: "That looks an awful lot like spinach." For a moment I froze. "Well," I said, my mind racing in search of an answer, "...that may look like spinach, but in fact it's... parsley. S was quiet for a moment in contemplation and then said: "Oh, parsley. Well that's alright then, yum." I squeezed my eyes at him lovingly and a few moments later we all tucked in.
What have I learnt from all this? That sometimes you just need to reshape and rename something to remove the stigma attached to it ("a heap of spinach - yuk!"). So in this house, spinach is tucked into all sort of things and called parsley. Period. Visitors are informed of this blatant lie and kindly play along ("mmm, these... parsley pies are delicious, Isabelle") and I am all the more grateful for it. Do I mind lying to my children? Not really. Parenting is all about making choices. And fingers crossed they'll be able to see the funny side when they're older.
Here is the recipe for these magical
spinach parsley pies. It is a cross between two Greek dishes, one called Tiropita (cheese pies really made with parsley!) and another called Spanakopita (my apologies to Greek readers if my accuracy is off mark).
Small Spinach Pies
adapted from Tessa Kiros
adapted from Tessa Kiros
300-500g fresh spinach
200g soft goat cheese
6-8 squares of puff pastry
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
- preheat oven 220 degrees Celsius, or according to instructions on pastry packet
- line an oven tray with baking paper
- meanwhile, defrost the puff pastry
- in a large non-stick pan, sauté spinach in the oil, on medium heat, folding over until it has shrunk; depending on the size of your pan you may need to do this in batches
- when the spinach has shrunk, transfer to a colander to drain excess moisture
- transfer spinach to a chopping board and chop finely
- in a large bowl, combine spinach and goat cheese
- add eggs, nutmeg, a pinch or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper - thoroughly combine
- place a dollop of the mixture on a square of pastry; fold pastry into a triangle and press edges with a fork to seal - this is important, you don't want the mixture to spill out.
- repeat process; don't worry if things become a bit messy - everything will set in the oven and work out just fine
- bake for 20 minutes until lovely and golden
- serve with a simple salad or some tomatoes and cucumbers - or anything else you have left over (I had some organic chicken that needed frying up)