Cooking for a four and seven year old can be demanding, and most of the time one of them will refuse to eat or ask for something different. We’ve recently introduced ‘Meat Free Monday’ into our home and the girls have really taken to it. It’s been a great way of getting them to help choose our meals, teach them about the environment and also the importance of a healthy diet.
The official #MeatFreeMonday website is packed full of nutritious recipes, from celebrity chefs to tried and tested family favourites from the McCartney family. One of my favourites has got to be Jamie Oliver’s pumpkin, chickpea and coconut curry. The sweet chunks of butternut squash and creaminess provided by the coconut milk make this a hit with the whole family.
There are so many tasty recipes to be found online, and not only is a #MeatFreeMonday great for our health, it’s cutting the cost of our weekly shop too.
Chickpea burgers and french fries
It came as no surprise that the first suggestion from my darling girls for #MeatFreeMonday came in the form of one of their favourite potato-based junk foods. Served up with homemade chickpea burgers and plenty of fresh, crunchy salad, this hearty dinner requires no pre-cooking which makes it a favourite of mine too, especially after a long day.
I’ve also recently discovered the McCain Quick Cook range and, while I try to keep frozen foods at a minimum in my household, sometimes it’s a blessing to have bag of french fries on hand that cook in five minutes flat.
400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 spring onions, trimmed
2 slices white sandwich bread
40g peanuts or almonds, unsalted (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large egg
Heat grill to high. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, spring onions, bread, nuts (if using) cumin, and ginger before seasoning with salt and pepper.
Once roughly chopped, remove half the mixture and place in another bowl. Add the egg to the food processor. Process until completely smooth and then add to the reserved mixture in the other bowl. Mix well.
Form the mixture into four patties just under an inch thick, brushing each side generously with oil. Place under the grill until charred, around three to five minutes per side.
Serve the burgers in bread or buns of your choice with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber and with a side of delicious fries.
Pesto pasta with oven roasted vegetables
Those of you that follow me on Instagram may have seen a photo of this colourful dish before. It’s one of the family’s absolute favourites and the girls love to pretend they’re eating rainbows for dinner. Whatever makes them eat their greens right? Pesto is so simple to make and the home-made stuff far out rivals any shop bought brand. As for the roasted veg, this is a great opportunity to use up whatever’s lying around in the fridge. We love the flavour of dill but rosemary and thyme both make great alternatives.
Pasta – any type works
Selection of vegetables – Tomatoes, beetroot, courgette, carrots, red pepper
For the pesto:
50g pine nuts
large bunch of basil
50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
150ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Start by preparing your chosen vegetables, chopping them into bitesize chunks and placing on a baking tray. The trick to roast them perfectly is to not overcrowd the pan so if it seems too full, divide into two trays. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and dill. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes at 200C, turning occasionally.
While the veggies cook, make the pesto. Heat a small frying pan and lightly toast the pine nuts until they’re golden. Pour these with the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth, then season. Finally, bring a large pan of boiling water to the boil and cook your chosen pasta.
Mix the pasta with the pesto and top with the roasted vegetables and sprigs of fresh dill.