Yields: about 16-18 bites Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes
These little gems are easy to make, packed with flavor and loaded with nutritious ingredients such as spinach, kale and quinoa. Vegetarian and gluten free, these spinach and kale bites are perfect as an appetizer or even as a kid-friendly meal!
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1/2 cup kale, stems removed and finely diced
1/4 cup yellow onions, finely diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1/2 tablespoon
1 1/4 cup quality Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, whole grain or gluten free
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cook quinoa according to directions and set aside (I cook mine in vegetable or chicken broth for extra flavor.)
3. Place defrosted chopped spinach, chopped kale, diced onion, minced garlic, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a sauté pan. Cook on medium heat until cooked through and onions are translucent.
4. Remove from pan and gently add in breadcrumbs, cooked quinoa, egg and Parmesan cheese and additional 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix until combined.
5. Using a spoon, scoop out about 1 -2 tablespoons of spinach mixture and place on lined baking pan. These little bites do not really spread, so they don’t need to be really far apart, but do give them a little space, about an inch or 2.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
I made these spinach bites for my older two when they were toddlers. Well, no longer are they toddlers and their other sister who can now barely pass as a toddler has now been introduced to these little bites.
My mom used to make spinach balls every time they would have company over when I was younger. I am an only child, so I was surrounded by adults during most of these dinner parties. I think that helped develop a bit of a diverse palate, as my parents had friends from all over the world. Now, I am very grateful for these experiences. However, it is hindsight with which I see these situations as beneficial. As the time, I really just wished my parents had adopted another sibling.
And as for the nutritional benefits, they are plentiful! Quinoa is a great source of vegetarian protein, as well as magnesium and iron. Spinach and kale are nutrient dense as well, filled with antioxidants and folic acid.
So, back to these spinach and kale bites. I have since made these with just spinach for my little ones. Then the kale boom happened, and I started adding kale. And when the quinoa explosion came, in went the quinoa. And since the nutrition started increasing with each addition, I make these more for snacks or dinner (or breakfast or lunch) than I do for an appetizer.
Because we use them as a main course at times, I hold back on the cheese and oil. If I were making them for company, I might add a tad more oil in step 4 above, and even another 1/4 cup of cheese or so. Then again, I may not. It just depends on my guests.
These are perfect for a holiday or special event appetizer. They are incredibly nutritious and are also packed full of flavor. (Plus, they don’t require a watchful eye for double-dipping for the germaphobes in the room…ahem, yours truly!) And although it has been many years since my mom first made her original spinach ball, I think of the multitude of events in which these were made, dining room filled with company as the dinner parties carried into the evening.
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