By Liz Bares
My daughter is a pretty picky eater. She only likes bananas with peanut butter, eats eggs only when nestled inside an English muffin with cheese and catsup, and chokes down greens as if she were eating her brother’s gym socks. As a lover of almost all foods, this distresses me, although I’m confident when I was seven there were certain foods I did not go near.
Typically, our weekly menu is a mish-mash of foods I think are healthy and the kids should try, and foods I know for certain they will eat. I’m lucky that both my kids seem to eat a good variety of foods, but not liking greens is something my girl needs to get over.
A few years ago a friend of my in-laws was in town and making a dinner for all the kids. In the Cuisinart was a green sauce that smelled like pesto but was creamier in consistency. I asked what she was making. She said it was a sauce she came up with because her daughters disliked spinach. Spinach is packed with all kinds of valuable nutrients!
Before kale became the reigning queen of hipster smoothies everywhere, spinach was the star. Packed with vitamins A and C, iron and magnesium, spinach is a very good contender for the veggie all-star games.
Well, my girl hates spinach. Picks it out of salads, surgically removes it from a quiche, or goes into a full whining tantrum when the beautiful dark green leaves are casually laying on the cutting board. I asked the family friend for the recipe and tried it myself the following night.
I made the sauce secretly as to put off my daughter from any ingredients, then warmed the sauce and ladled it over some hot noodles. Eleanor sniffed it, inspected it closely and decided it was just some sort of pesto and bit into a spoonful of noodles. She loved the sauce, LOVED IT! Today, she knows what is in the sauce and does not care one iota. We ate it the other night and she proudly proclaimed to her Dad that they were eating a sauce that had TWO BAGS of spinach in it. Although, she followed that comment up with, “I still hate spinach, unless it’s this sauce.”
Spring Spinach Sauce
2 10 oz. bags of spinach (or three bags of spinach from Canticle Farm)
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Small handful of roasted walnuts
A few fresh basil leaves or a teaspoon of dried
Wilt spinach by putting it in a pan over low to medium heat. Stir the spinach around until it begins to wilt. Keep stirring until completely wilted. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out any liquid.
Meanwhile put garlic and walnuts into a food processor and pulse until completely combined. Add basil and pulse a bit more. Add spinach to the food processor with the cheeses. Blend until combined and a beautiful spring green color. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer sauce to a saucepan and heat gently over low to medium heat.
Add warm sauce to any type of cooked pasta. I like to put a bit a feta cheese on top, but you could just add a sprinkle of more parmesan.