Kid-friendly Greek Spanakopita Cups Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Greek Spanakopita Cups

Recipe: Greek Spanakopita Cups

Greek Spanakopita Cups

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock.com
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
13 minutes
makes
6-12 servings

Fun Food Story

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Greek Spanakopita Cups

​​Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Horiatiki Greek Salad!

In this recipe, we will wow kids with some delicious food from Greece. Rustic, communal, colorful, and fresh, Greek food is one of our all-time favorites. We love it for its simplicity and purity. Greek recipes are wonderful because they encompass a pretty specific range of ingredients, yet each dish stands apart on its own and is beautifully named, to boot. Spanakopita (spah-nah-KO-pee-tah) and Horiatiki (hor-ee-AH-tee-kee) are popular Greek dishes. Spanakopita is a traditional spinach pie made with phyllo (FEE-lo) dough and the perfect introduction to this rich cuisine culture. We’re turning the recipe into individual cups using wonton wrappers that are especially fun for kids to make! 

Ask any kid (or adult) to name the main ingredient in salad, and what’ll they say? Lettuce, probably. Greek salads don’t have lettuce. Horiatiki, or “village salad,” is typically made with a combination of farm-fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olives, and olive oil—things villagers always had on hand. To simplify things, we’re making a straight cucumber Horiatiki with all the same seasonings of the original salad recipe, including oregano. Enjoy cooking up these recipes with your kids, and don’t forget to shout “Opa!” as you do.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • layer :

    to arrange foods in layers, such as sliced fruit in a pie or tart, or sliced potatoes in a potato gratin; or to build flavors by adding seasonings or foods that may be dissimilar but complement the overall dish.

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • squeeze :

    to firmly press or twist a food with fingers, hands, or a device to remove its liquid, like shredded potatoes, frozen and thawed spinach, or tofu.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Pastry brush (optional)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing owl
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Sauté pan
  • Whisk
  • Dry measuring cups
scale
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Ingredients

Greek Spanakopita Cups

  • 5 oz frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 garlic clove or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 T olive oil + more to grease muffin pan
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub ricotta cheese for egg or omit egg if dairy allergy also present)**
  • 4 oz (1 C) crumbled feta cheese **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub firm tofu + lemon juice + salt—more info below)**
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or honey
  • 2 T plain Greek yogurt **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free plain Greek yogurt)**
  • 24 wonton wrappers **(for EGG/GLUTEN ALLERGY sub rice paper wrappers—more info below)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Greek Spanakopita Cups

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute rice paper wrappers (dipped in water for 5 to 10 seconds) for wonton wrappers.
  • Egg: Substitute rice paper wrappers (dipped in water for 5 to 10 seconds) for wonton wrappers. Substitute 1/4 C ricotta cheese for egg or omit egg if dairy allergy also present.
  • Dairy: For 4 oz feta cheese, substitute 1/4 C firm tofu (squeezed) + 1 tsp lemon juice + 1/2 tsp salt. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free plain Greek yogurt.

Instructions

Greek Spanakopita Cups

1.
preheat + squeeze + chop

Preheat your oven to 400 F. With a pastry brush, brush the insides of the wells of a muffin pan with oil. Place 5 ounces of spinach in a large mixing bowl and squeeze to remove the excess water. Discard the liquid and set the spinach aside in the large bowl Then chop 2 green onions and 1 garlic clove.

2.
sauté + crack + whisk

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan and cook onions and garlic until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, crack 1 egg in a small bowl and whisk.

3.
add + measure + mix

Add the sautéed onions and garlic to the spinach. Add the egg and 1 cup of feta cheese. Measure 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, 1 teaspoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Mix well.

4.
layer + bake

Take 2 of the 24 wonton wrappers and layer 1 teaspoon of the spinach mixture in the middle of the first wrapper. Then layer the second wonton wrapper over that. Place 1 more teaspoon of spinach filling on the second wonton wrapper. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers. Then place spanakopita cups in greased muffin pan wells and press them down, using a spoon, so they form to the wells. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the spinach mixture has set and wonton wrappers are golden and crispy!

Surprise Ingredient: Spinach!

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Photo by BearFotos/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Spinach!

"I'm Popeye the sailor man … Oh, excuse me. I like to sing that song because Popeye loved me! Yep! I'm Spinach! I'm a dark green, leafy vegetable, the kind that's so good for you! I may not make you as strong as Popeye, but I'll definitely make your body healthier and stronger. Plus, I'm delicious in so many dishes, including salads, sandwiches, soups, spanakopita, and even lasagna! Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I even get sneaked into muffins and cakes." 

History & Etymology

  • Spinach is a native plant of Persia (modern-day Iran). China produces the most spinach anywhere in the world, and in China, spinach is still known as The Persian Green. 
  • Spinach was grown in Spain during the 8th century, and Spaniards eventually brought it to the United States. 
  • Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as ink or paint.
  • China is the world's largest spinach producer, with 85 percent of global production, and California produces 74 percent of the fresh spinach grown in the United States.
  • In the mid-1900s, a cartoon character named Popeye the Sailor Man caused the popularity of spinach to explode! This is because he would turn strong and powerful immediately after eating a can of spinach. 
  • The English word "spinach" came from the 14th century French "espinache," through Latin and Arabic, originally from the Persian "aspanak."

Anatomy 

  • Spinach is a member of the amaranth family, making it a close relation to beets and chard. 
  • Spinach plants are hardy and annual (meaning they need to be replanted each year). They can grow up to one foot tall. 
  • Larger leaves grow at the base of the plant, while smaller leaves are at the top (like basil). Spinach has dark green leaves that, depending on the variety, can be either curled or smooth. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • When buying fresh spinach, choose leaves that are crisp and dark green with a nice fresh fragrance. Avoid those that are limp, damaged, or have yellow spots. 
  • Refrigerate spinach in a plastic bag for up to three days. 
  • Spinach, which is usually very gritty because it is grown in sand, must be thoroughly rinsed.
  • Spinach can be eaten raw in salads and added raw to smoothies. Spinach doesn't have a strong taste, so it's a wonderful fuss-free addition when you want to pack in more nutrition to whatever you're cooking. It can be chopped and added to soups and stir-fries, baked into gratins, quiches, and pies, or pureed and added to dips. Spinach is super versatile. Frozen spinach is an easy substitute and works brilliantly in many recipes that call for fresh spinach.

Nutrition

  • Dark leafy green vegetables are some of the best foods to feed our bodies. Specifically, dark greens like spinach keep our hearts, blood, and brains healthy. 
  • Just half a cup of raw spinach counts as one of the five servings of fruits and vegetables you should eat daily.
  • Spinach is another source of vitamin K1. Do you remember that K1 helps with blood clotting? How's this for interesting: French soldiers consumed wine mixed with spinach juice during the First World War to recuperate from excessive bleeding! 
  • Spinach is high in chlorophyll! In fact, all green vegetables (and plants) contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll's job is to absorb sunlight and use it for energy—a process called photosynthesis. In addition, chlorophyll helps the body make red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen through the blood to our organs. 

 

History of Spanakopita!

Photo by P Kyriakos/Shutterstock.com
  • Spanakopita (spah-nah-KO-pee-tah) is a traditional Greek savory pastry. We all know the word pita, as in pita bread. Well, in Greek, pita means pie. So the English translation of "spanakopita" is "spinach pie." 
  • This Greek dish may have originated over 500 years ago, during the occupation of the Ottoman Empire.  
  • Spanakopita is made with phyllo dough filled with cooked spinach, feta cheese, eggs, onions or scallions, and seasonings like dill, nutmeg, or mint. After baking, the pastry is commonly cut into triangles for serving. The traditional Greek way is to serve them lukewarm. Although you can purchase previously prepared spanakopita ready to bake and serve as an appetizer, making spanakopita yourself is much more fun! 
  • You will find the dish in most Greek restaurants outside of Greece and in virtually all restaurants in Greece. Chefs and food historians credit the region of Epirus in Northwestern Greece with serving the most delicious spanakopita in the world.

Let's Learn About Greece!

Photo by NadyaEugene/Shutterstock.com

Ancient Greece

  • Ancient Greece was a civilization in the northeastern Mediterranean region that existed from about 1100 BCE to 600 CE. Democracy began there in Athens in the 5th century BCE.
  • The first Olympics were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the plains of Olympia. Ancient Olympic sports included running, chariot racing, mule-cart racing, boxing, discus throw, long jump, wrestling, and pankration, a wild cross between wrestling and boxing with no rules except biting and eye-gouging!
  • A few of the well-known figures from this period were: Alexander the Great, who ruled over the whole empire from 336 to 323 BCE; Hippocrates, a physician referred to as the Father of Medicine; Herodotus, called the Father of History, who wrote his "Histories" about the Greco-Persian wars; Socrates, considered the founder of Western Philosophy; Plato, an author and philosopher who founded the first academy of higher learning in the West; Aristotle, a student of Plato's who also founded a school of philosophy; and Thales, a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece.  

Modern Greece

  • Greece, in Southeast Europe, is officially called the Hellenic Republic. Its government is a unitary parliamentary republic with a president, prime minister, and parliament. The capital and largest city is Athens, and the official language is Greek.
  • Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821 and was recognized as an independent country in 1830. 
  • The size of Greece is about the same as the US state of Alabama but has twice as many people, over 10.5 million. 
  • The country of Greece consists of 6,000 islands, but only 227 are inhabited. Nearly 80 percent of the country is hills and mountains. 
  • About four-fifths of the people live in urban areas in Greece, and almost everyone is literate.
  • Greece has three times the number of annual tourists (about 31 million) as residents. It is one of the most-visited countries.
  • Greece is the third-largest producer of peaches and the fifth-largest producer of olives in the world. 
  • In the past, most Greeks were farmers, and they ate the food that they grew. Since Greece had a mild climate, they could grow many different fruits and vegetables as long as they got enough rain. Vegetables were a considerable part of the Greek diet and still are. Most Greeks eat a Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of olive oil, legumes, fruits, veggies, grains, and fish. They generally consume less dairy and meat.
  • Greek cuisine includes "fasolada" (soup of white beans, olive oil, and veggies), "moussaka" (eggplant or potato dish with ground or minced meat), "souvlaki" (grilled meat on a skewer), and "gyros" (pita bread filled with meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, veggies, and tzatziki sauce). 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Greece?

  • Greek kids have three stages of education: primary school for six years, gymnasium (junior high) for three years, and lyceum (senior high) for three years (this stage is not mandatory).
  • Kids may participate in sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, and handball. 
  • There are many museums and ancient sites to explore in Greece. Families love being outdoors and enjoy hiking and going to the many beaches. 
  • There are several different sweets that Greek children enjoy. These include "pasteli" (sesame seed candy), "bougatsa" and "galaktoboureko" (phyllo pastries filled with semolina custard), and "baklava" (nut-filled phyllo pastry soaked in a honey syrup).

That's Berry Funny

What’s a dancer’s favorite kind of vegetable?

Spin-ach!

THYME for a Laugh

What did Papa Spinach say to Baby Spinach? 

"Be-LEAF in yourself!"

Lettuce Joke Around

Why are spinach leaves never lonely? 

Because they come in bunches!

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