Simple Sides: Spinach Won Ton Triangles
By Dennis Linden
Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic -- this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
Here’s a very simple and fun recipe that is guaranteed to increase your family’s consumption of one of the healthiest veggies on the planet – spinach. Spinach is a super food that is loaded with all kinds of beneficial nutrients. The protein, iron, vitamins and minerals in Popeye’s vegetable of choice contributes to skin, hair and bone health, helps to control blood glucose in diabetics and has been proven to decrease the risk of several kinds of cancer. Spinach can also be very instrumental in lowering blood pressure and is packed with lutein, an antioxidant essential for good vision. However, that iconic sailor was no cook; there are a lot tastier ways to enjoy the benefits of this slightly peppery-flavored lettuce besides popping open a can like the cartoon character.
Use Melissa’s Won Ton Wrappers to provide a tasty delivery vehicle for the star ingredient of this dish. In fact, there’s a kind of arts-and-crafts aspect to this recipe that allows even your youngest helper to be a part of the prep. So, once an older child or an adult has done the dicing and chopping required, your youngest could use those small, clean hands to mix all the ingredients together, no mixing spoon required! Also a child of just about any age can be assigned to spooning the spinach mixture onto the wrappers and the folding them into triangles. The point being that everyone in the family takes part in getting the meal on the table and has fun learning about cooking in the process.
There is really not much to this recipe – it has a short list of ingredients that all find their way into one bowl. Emphasize to your kitchen crew the need to always wash spinach, maybe even twice, to get all the field grit out of the leaves. It’s a detail that can ruin the texture and taste of any spinach dish if not done efficiently. An older child, under close supervision, will get some rudimentary practice in slicing and dicing; then a short assembly line of the whole family can go to work to construct the triangles. The results are absolutely delicious. Enjoy!
Spinach Won Ton Triangles
Serves 4 (about 20 units total)
2 bunches Spinach, chopped, steamed and squeezed dry
1 cup Crumbled Fat-Free Feta Cheese
1/3 cup Sweet Onion, diced
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley, chopped
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Salt
20 Melissa’s Won Ton Wraps
What the kids can do:
Lightly coat a baking sheet with a nonstick spray or vegetable shortening.
Chop spinach in medium-sized pieces, stems included.
Rinse spinach thoroughly before using.
Dice onions, mince garlic, chop parsley – measure out each.
In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients, except the wonton wrappers.
Lay wrappers flat on a clean, dry surface.
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of spinach mixture into the upper-left triangle half of each wrapper.
Fold the empty triangular half over the filling, and gently pat down. (No need to seal the edges.)
Place each won ton triangle flat on the waiting baking sheet.
Lightly brush the top side of each won ton with olive oil.
Halfway through baking time, carefully flip each won ton and lightly brush oil again.
What the supervising adult should do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oversee the required knife work closely or do yourself if kids are too young. Bake in the oven until golden brown, 12 - 15 minutes; supervise the flipping of the hot won tons halfway through the bake time. The second side will brown up much quicker, so watch carefully. Serve family style or as a side dish with roasted chicken, rice or potatoes.