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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Eating > Spinach



Please share your favorite spinach recipes

Feb 2004

I am trying to expand my food horizons now that I have a child because I want him to eat better foods than his mom did when she was a kid. I want both of us to eat more spinach, but frankly, I can't figure out how to prepare it so that it isn't (a) completely tough, like in a traditional spinach salad or (b) greasy and limp, like when it is wilted in a saute or creamed. I'm looking for recipes that contain spinach, where the spinach is either disguised or is somehow transformed into something palatable. For example, I've heard of people using a heated salad dressing to partially wilt their spinach salad, but I can't seem to find a recipe. Will some of you spinach-eaters share your favorite spinach recipes with me? Popeye Wannabe


ah, spinach! I actually like it, but have gone the disguising route with my toddler. I take a whole head of fresh organic spinach from Berkeley Bowl, cut the stems off while it's still in a hunk together (yeah you lose a few leaves but not a lot and it's so much faster) and rinse it really really well 3 times, then dry it well in a salad spinner. Then I put it on the chopping board and take a cleaver and just keep chopping until it is finely minced. Then I toss it into various dishes during the last 2 minutes of cooking (mac and cheese, fish stew, minestrone, pasta sauce, veggie curry, etc. etc.). A lot of it cooks down into almost nothing and you don't taste it much. I also will do the same prep and mush it into raw hamburger or ground turkey or canned salmon, add a bit of matzo meal, egg and garlic salt and either broil or fry them as burgers. Also add it to meatloaf. Anything goes! Enjoy and bon appetite! spinach lover
My favorite ways to incorporate spinach into a meal is to mix it into pasta, when the sauce is hot just for a few minutes before you serve it. Another way is to food process it into pasta sauce, I do it with brocolli too, great for really picky eaters. For a salad, I would gently heat a vinegarette until it's warm and then toss it with spinach. Also adding chopped spinach to scrambled eggs or adding it to a grilled cheese is yummy. anon
low-stress and impossible to mess-up spinach pie:

frozen pie crust (we look for ones with vegetable oil, no lard)
trader joe's frozen bag of pesticide-free spinach (one bag = 
one pie)
eggs
cottage or ricotta cheese
grated cheese
mustard powder
mushrooms or tomatoes, optional

pre-heat over to 350-375 ish.

poke the crust with fork and put the crust in the oven for 5-10 
minutes (makes less soggy, i think) 

filling:
you can use fresh spinach, steam it (or microwave it) and 
squeeze excess liquid (clean hands are quickest squeezing 
method, get most juice out).
defrost spinach (microwave or move from freeze to fridge 
evening or morning before use) and squeeze excess liquid.

eggs, 3 or 4.  

grated (whatever you like or have handy, originally used 
mozerralla, but cheddar is easier to spell!)cheese (either line 
the crust or throw in to the filling mix)

cottage cheese or ricotta - close to 16 oz container.

spices - i'm pretty ignorant, use some mustard powder because 
container says good for egg dishes.  i'm seeking mild for the 
kids so no longer use pepper.  whatever.

to quote blue's clues:  mixa, mixa, mixa
then, poura, poura, poura in crust

often top with some shredded cheese or tomato slices.

bake until it seems to firm up. an hour?

optionals:
before kids, used to throw in some salsa. 
tomatoes, in season on top of pie.
mushrooms lining the crust. 
It's quick, kids can help with prep, it's somewhat disguised spinach. Try to look for organic (berkeley bowl for fresh) or TJ's pesticide free frozen. Spinach is grown with a *lot* of pesticides.

If anyone has an improved version, please post!!

PS. Friend makes lasagna with greens or spinach. I'm not that ambitious, though. good luck!


My mom makes great spinach that all my friends and my toddler enjoys! And it's really easy to make...
Boil water, dunk clean spinach leaves (1 or 2 bunches from 
store, w/ the ends cut off) into boiled water and remove 
immediately.  W/ your hands, squeeze excess water out of the 
leaves into a mixing bowl.

add a drizzle of sesame oil ( 1-2 tablespoons)
add finely chopped garlic (3-5 cloves, fresh)
and chopped green onions (2 onions)
and sea salt to taste

Mix in the bowl w/ your hands.

The amounts are to taste - my mother and i do it w/out measuring 
so the amounts above are a guess.  
This produces a wonderful side dish that's flavorful and delicious! adjust the recipe to your family's liking. You can make it ahead of time and serve it w/ meals. Good in fridge for about a week/7 days. yummy! ahoy!
You didn't mention how old your son is, but when my now four- year-old daughter was about a year old, I started steaming carrots and spinach together, putting them in a blender to make a puree, and then adding some of the mixture to prepared pasta sauce from a jar. You could, of course, do this with just spinach. We would generally serve this over pasta, but you could probably do other things with it as well. This mixture was one of the mainstays of her diet for quite some time. My husband and I would just eat our pasta sauce plain, but I'm not sure why, because it is very tasty, especially with a bit of extra olive oil and Parmesan. Maybe it seemed like ''baby food''. Now that you have reminded me about this, since it's been a while, I think I will make some for the whole family. It was really a foolproof way of getting my daughter to eat vegetables she normally would not (and still will rarely) eat. Once you mix the pasta sauce and purB ed vegetables together, it would make sense to freeze some of it as it doesn't keep long. Popeye would be proud. Good luck! Lisa
Well, I don't have a recipe for you, but I do have a suggestion to think about: if you're going to feed your child more spinach, I strongly urge you to consider making sure it's the ''organic'' kind. It turns out that conventionally grown spinach is one of the plants that really should be avoided, because of how many pesticides they are regularly sprayed with. It's among the top ten WORST vegetables/fruits for pesticide residue (which can't be just washed off, by the way! Since the pesticides are included in the irrigation water, they get right in to the plants). You may have already been intending to use organic spinach, but, just in case, I thought I'd offer that so that you're at least able to make an informed choice.

Personally, I love spinach raw, especially the ''baby spinach.'' But that's just me! (organic) spinach lover


My son gets lots of spinach b/c we feed him those spinach/mushroom quiches from trader joes. He loves them. So try either making spinach quiches or buying them. They also get lots of protein, fat and calcium from them. anon
My favorite and easiest recipe:  

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil (I use olive) in a large pot that has a 
lid.  Add 1 smashed garlic clove and let it sizzle for a minute.  
Then add a bunch or 2 of washed spinach (some water 
should still be clinging to it - if its prewashed and bagged, 
add a little water - 1/4 cup).  Put the lid on the pot and wait 1 
minute.  Then stir and serve or let cook a bit longer so it's 
done enough for you.  I squeeze a lemon over it (Meyer 
lemon if you have it) and add salt & pepper to taste.  This 
recipe works for other greens as well (mustard, chard, 
collards, etc.)  you just may need to cook them longer.

I try to work spinach in wherever I can. I'll add handfuls into canned lentil soup that I'm heating or put hot beans and rice over it and add hot sauce, cheese, sour cream ,etc. Catherine F


Y This Thai recipe is usually made with swamp cabbage/kankong/kongxincai but works well with spinach. I make it without the 1/4 cup of sliced jalapeno pepper: 2 Tb. oil 1 lb. swamp cabbage or spinach, cut into 1 in. pieces 6 garlic cloves, minced 2 Tb. black bean sauce (available at most Bay area supermarkets in the Asian food aisle) 1 Tb fish sauce 1 ts. sugar Heat a large skillet until very hot; add the oil and all the remaining ingredients. Quickly stir-fry for 30 seconds and serve.
madeline h
First of all, spinach isn't the only healthy green! But since you asked:

For spinach salads, be sure you buy the baby spicach - it's much more tender than regular. If it's really too much spinach for you, mix it with other baby greens.

For a quick wilt: heat up a little olive oil in a pan. Add some garlic (crushed or chopped) and stir for a moment. Pour it quickly over the spinach (or turn of the heat and add the spinach to the pan for a little wiltier version). Add a sqeeze of lemon juice, or a splash of your favorite vinegar. Salt and pepper if you wish.

Also good: make (or heat up) your favorite lentil soup. About a minute or two before serving, add some torn up sinach leaves. Ms. Popeye


I have managed to get my 2 picky boys to eats spinach in two ways - risotto and pesto. Both ways I just wilt/saute it with tiny bit of olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper, and a splash of vermouth (totally optional), then blitz it in the Cuisinart. For pesto I add a bunch of basil, more garlic, salt and Parmesan, then blitz it while adding olive oil through the tube till it's the proper consistency. Then just add to hot pasta! For risotto, just add the spinach with the last bit of broth at the end of cooking, and plenty of Parmesan before serving. Or, add the blitzed spinach and some crumbled feta cheese to plain ole white rice (I use the feta that comes in a jar with herbed oil, and add the oil too - great extra flavor and they love it). We just call these dishes ''green rice'' (their favorite of all my dishes) or ''green pasta'' (when they've affirmed their liking for it we start using the real names, like pesto). For some reason, though my two won't touch anything else green unless it's minced and mixed with the rest of the the dish (and therefore, for reasons unknown, acceptable to eat!) they love to eat these dishes. I let them drink orange juice with these meals since Vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron better. Good luck! Andrea M
Hi, Tonight we ate a spinach frittata. The receipe is in the Moosewood Cooks at Home cookbook. We love it and eat it often. We get our iron
look on the web for recipes for spinach pie (which is essentially eggs, spinach, maybe some sausage & onions, a little flour & some cheese in a pie crust)-it's yummy. (I'd give you mine but every time I make it I realize the recipe isn't quite right & I end up fixing it along the way and do it differently every time. ) Put spinach in your sandwiches instead of lettuce. Throw it in your soups. You can throw in a huge pile of it and it cooks to nothing and you don't really taste it specifically. personally, I love a little wilted spinach w/ bacon & bacon grease, but I don't make it because I don't htink it's all that healthy. What you need is really fresh baby spinach, then you can make an easy salad that isn't tough. You can put mandarin oranges & candied pecans in it, slices of red onion, hard boiled eggs, etc. I think Greens or Chez Panisse cookbooks have some good recipes for dressings too.
Spinach - loose, baby organic kind - is a staple in our house. Here are a few of the things I do with it:
* Fine chop it for pastas and risottos, tossing it in at the 
last minute so it keeps it's intense green colour. This can be 
as little as a few tablespoons to two cups.
* Fine chop it into soups or French green lentils.
* Quick saute in olive oil with garlic/carmelized onions.
* Add it to mixed baby greens for a nutritional punch.
* Steam or quick blanch (5-10 seconds) spinach and add a little 
butter.  Butter really ''improves'' the flavour for children.
* Layer it in our lasagne along with finely grated carrots.
* Make spanikopita (Greek spinach and feta pie). Turns out that 
chopped frozen is easier to use here.
If time is short, recipes few and desire is high go for the bulk, baby organic spinach. SO MUCH EASIER to use, versatile (cook it or use it raw in salads), no cleaning required except for a quick soak and rinse in a salad spinner(no need if you are blanching) and much sweeter flavor than the big, old spinach with stems. Loves spinach
mmmmmmmmmmm..........I was that weird kid who has always loved spinach! Here's one of my favorite spinach recipes because it's so EASY!
Spinach & White Beans with Garlic:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb. spinach, washed & chopped 
     (the bags of pre-washed spinach is definitely easier 
because spinach is soooo dirty but with a salad spinner and 
some patience, bunches of spinach is much cheaper.  it's your 
call!)
15 or 16 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained 
1 TBSP basalmic vinegar

In skillet, cook garlic until golden.  Add spinach, stir & cook 
until just wilted.  Add beans, vinegar, salt & pepper to 
taste.  Simmer, stirring 2 minutes.
That's it! I've been know to even add some cooked, cubed chicken from time to time when I feel like I need some more protein!

Finally, remember that spinach SHRINKS beyond belief when you cook it. You may think you have alot, but once you cook it up, it reduces very very very much.

Good luck and I'm glad you're giving spinach another chance because it's really one of my very favorite veggies! yummmmmm! tiffany


My favourite spinach recipe is to rinse it, put it into a microwaveable pot, microwave on high for 2 minutes (don't add more water) until just limp, drain any excess water (shouldn't be much) and then add some butter, brown sugar and lemon juice. (A teaspoon to tablespoon of each; to taste). I also add spinach to many recipes: lasagne, spaghetti sauce, beef casseroles. Barbara
I saw all the spinach recipe posts and thought I would add my two cents, since I currently have a toddler who is VERY finicky about vegetables. We've been experimenting with getting him to eat green things, and our main successes have been when we've mixed spinach or other things (kale, collards, chard, broccoli) in with cheese, eggs, potatos or beans (all of which he absolutely loves).

So. The recipes that have been successful lately:

1. Quiches. Incredibly easy and always a hit. We buy frozen crusts, so the preparation takes about 10-20 minutes, and then it's in the oven. Cover the bottom of the crust with shredded cheese (swiss or cheddar work well). Saute some veggies (spinach and mushrooms, or broccoli, or white beans and tomatoes, or asparagus - here's where you get creative! Add some basil or other spices if you like. No salt necessary - it ends up salty enough.) and throw them in on top of the cheese. Mix 3 eggs and a cup of milk, soy milk or yogurt, and pour the concoction over everything. Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 35 minutes at 375 or so. Let it sit for a few minutes to firm up, and enjoy!

2. Minestrone. Absolutely easy. Saute some carrots, onions, garlic, and celery for a few minutes, then add some water and let it cook into broth. Add small pasta shapes and let it cook until almost done, then add a can of chopped or crushed tomatoes, greens (kale, collards, or spinach chopped up really small), beans (last time we tried canned soy beans and he LOVED it), and anything else you want. Cook until the greens are cooked and the pasta is al-dente. Serve with crusty bread and covered with parmesan. We're able to slip some of the greens onto the spoon under a bean or some cheese, and he doesn't even know he's eating it.

3. Green soup. Usually I make this with broccoli, but I bet you could add some spinach or other veggies and it would be good. Steam some broccoli with chopped ginger, and boil some potatoes at the same time. When both are done, puree them with some of the potato water, soy milk or milk, chicken broth, or some combination of all of them. Add some salt and pepper, and if your kids are adventurous, cayenne pepper. While still very hot, stir in shredded cheddar, parmesan, or other melty cheese. Serve it with crusty bread.

4. Last night my mother-in-law came over with some delicious eggy stuff that my son loved. I'm not sure exactly how she made it, but it had lots of eggs, sauteed ground turkey, spinach, and goat cheese mixed together. She put some parmesan on top and baked it for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. It was almost like a baked omelet, or a heavy souffle. Jen


I just had to share this recipe because it is just the BEST spinach recipe, even though I don't know if your young children eat soup. Also fast and easy and saves well for any busy mom! Sneaks some zucchini in there too, which my husband says he ''hates'' but has never noticed as he scarfs down this recipe!!
Spinach, White Bean and Sausage Soup

5-6 chicken/turkey pesto sausages (I use Aidell's), sliced into 
1/2 rounds
1 onion, chopped,
olive oil or spray for sauteing
3 cloves garlic
3 zucchini chopped
1 package (16 oz.) washed baby spinach, chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tblsp crumbled sage
2 cans white beans, cooked and rinsed and drained.
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
Using olive oil, brown sausages and remove from pot.  Add onion 
and cook 5 minutes.  Add garlic and spices, 2-3 more minutes.  
Add zucchini and chopped spinach and saute until spinach is just 
wilted.  Add chicken stock, water and beans and bring to boil.  
Add sausage and simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Serve!
cabernard
I loved all the spinach recipes and can't wait to try them. The only additional info I have is about a warm spinach salad: heat some oil and vinegar in a pan; saute some red onions for a minute or 2, then add the spinach and toss in the pan until coated with the oil and vinear and just wilted (only about a minute or so). Great with blue cheese or feta crumbled on it and tossed in just before removing from heat (so cheese gets slightly melted). Yum. Frances
This is a response to advice given about a warm spinach salad using a method of heating oil and vinegar together in a pan. If a high temperature is reached and oil and vinegar have separated, you will have a nice explosion and hours of cleaning ahead of you. Let me tell you, it's not fun cleaning a ceiling when you hadn't planned on it! There is no disrepspect intended, but if I may offer a safer method: toss your salad greens with the vinegar and thinly sliced onions. Then, heat the oil to just smoking. (Olive oil has a very low smoking point, about 1 minute on medium-high gas heat.) Then pour hot oil on your salad and toss. The heat of the oil will soften both the onions and spinach. anon
Yet two more spinach recipes:

''Parenting'' magazine had a delicious spinach and ricotta pie recipe in their Sept. 2003 issue. It is easy, and makes enough to freeze for later.

Our family loves ''green pasta'': Take 15 oz ricotta cheese, one package prepared pesto, 16 oz frozen spinach (thawed and drained), and parmesan to taste, and blend in blender or food processor. Toss with pasta (we especially like it with gnocci -- available at Trader Joe's). This makes enough for two servings for our family, so I divide and freeze half. Melissa T


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