Sunday, 27 July 2014

Hiding the bad guys





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

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)

30 comments:

  1. I love spinach, I'm growing loads on the allotment. My favourite dish is is just a plain and simple spinach and egg scramble on toast. The kids do pull faces but I love it. We have a deal with the kids if they eat a dinner they're not keen on they get a pudding, a pizza kind of meal notta chance! lol

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    1. Oh, I love spinach and scrambled eggs! It's the best breakfast ever.

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  2. We all love spinach in this house which is just as well as I use it as a pizza base instead of tomatoes as I cannot eat them. I make a pie similar to this using feta and filo pastry. I often make pasties with puff pastry so I will give these a try they sounds yummy and would be perfect cold for picnics. Thank you for sharing.

    Oh and no I don't think you are lying to your children I have done the same!

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    1. Spinach as a pizza base - what a wonderful idea! It will be on next weekend's menu, thanks!

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  3. I have never worried about my children not liking various veg (including spinach) because like you I learned to love things I hated as a child when I grew up. Having said that my husband has still not outgrown his dislike of cruciferous veg. I'm hoping he is an exception.

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    1. Yes, it's funny how you can suddenly like things when you're older. As a child I used to hate pizza - now I love it :-0

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  4. I think you are the best mother !
    Most mothers nowadays just give up - "my children don't like spinach, so I don't make them eat it". Easy - lazy ! - solution.... Plus, as a consequence, you end up with children who only eat pizza/pasta/french fries and burgers....
    At least you are preoccupied that they eat healthy ! And a white lie is ok when it comes to raising kids ;-))))

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    1. Yes, that's precisely my reason for finding creative ways to get them to eat their greens. I see so many kids who refuse to eat anything that isn't potato in one form or other. Such a shame.

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  5. parsley! that's quite brilliant! x

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    1. A spur-of-the-moment stroke of genius :-)

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  6. I absolutely hate spinach - except when it is parsley of course. There are some things that just taste better disguised :)

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    1. Yes, definitely; parsley is delicious :-)

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  7. I have always wanted to try spanakopita, so perhaps I will give it a go! I don't think that there is any problem with the renaming! Whenever - rarely - I cook for my father in law I hide veggies in things like pasta sauce as he won't eat any veg given the chance! xx

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    1. Spanakopita is delicious - highly recommended. Isn't it funny though, a grown man who won't eat his greens. I guess most men really do remain children. (There were loads of veg my ex wouldn't eat either).

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  8. My bolognese sauce has a lot of things hidden in it… whatever works!

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  9. I hide things from my OH, as long as he doesn't see me make it he never knows :)

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    1. What they don't know, won't hurt them :-)

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  10. They look totally delicious - I just hope the children never realise that parsley tastes totally different to spinach - if they do you are in big trouble. haha

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    1. They have in fact tasted the real stuff. We told them there are all kinds of parsley. We manage to explain everything away in this house :-)

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  11. I'm giggling ... yes these tactics work ... I did just the same with my four. Three will now eat anything regardless of what it's called. Mind you I'm still lying to the other one, who is 20! Long may spinach, I mean parsley, be popular in your home x

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  12. I love spanakopita and my kids like it too. I've never tried the parsley version but I think it sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes, parsley with cream cheese is a lovely combination.

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  13. My daughter eats most things now and I reckon it's because we always gave her whatever we were eating. This sounds delicious. We also like spinach in Sag Aloo - potato and spinach curry.

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    1. We're great curry lovers here, but this is one I haven't tried. Of course now I will :-)

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  14. Great job! I'm lucky that my girls both eat a wide variety of foods and rarely reject anything. BigR has decided that she doesn't like chicken casserole but is quite happy to eat chicken stew *evil laugh* And of course if Elsa's favourite vegetables are brussel sprouts and peppers then she'll eat those as well! That recipe looks delicious!!

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    1. So she will eat chicken stew, haha - I just can't help that involuntary evil smile reappearing on my face.

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  15. Hi Isabelle - I love your blog and would like to nominate you for a Liebster Award. I see that Leanne at Today's Stuff has also done this so this is a Double Award!

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and nomination, Doris. It made my day!

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