Looking to get your kids more excited about food and engaged during meal times?
We find the best way to make sure our little ones are fully hands-on in the kitchen is to help them learn about new foods and encourage them to experiment with new tastes. These three recipes are a fun and easy way to introduce children to a range of preparation and cooking techniques, such as sautéing and basic knife skills. As always our “use it up” motto means that any leftovers double up as great lunchbox fillers.
Ándale, ándale! Our children often need a tasty meal that can be whipped up quickly. This recipe ticks both those boxes, and also provides kids with the chance to get involved in a fun cooking activity. I’ve included two tasty filling ideas to introduce new flavours (and hidden vegetables), but you can always experiment with your own ideas. To save on time, prepare the fillings in advance and store them in the fridge. This recipe makes four to six servings (four whole quesadillas) and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days to be reheated for another meal. This will help transport your family’s taste buds to the streets of Mexico City! Don’t forget to serve with a twist of lime for best results.
Ingredients for Zesty Broccoli Filling
1 head of broccoli (about 225g)
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
100g Greek yoghurt or sour cream
3 spring onions (finely sliced)
½ a lemon (zest only)
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp salt
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Place a steamer or metal sieve (that does not touch the water) over the top of the saucepan.
- Add the whole head of broccoli to the steamer or sieve and cover with a lid. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cool under running cold water. Shake and pat dry with a tea towel.
- Chop the broccoli into small florets (about 1.5cm squared pieces), discarding any tough stalks.
- Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the broccoli, a large pinch of salt and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until browned (seared) around the edges. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small mixing bowl to cool.
- Once cool, add the spring onion, yoghurt, lemon zest and egg to the bowl. Stir well to combine.
Ingredients for Tex-Mex Filling
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 small white onion (about 100g), finely diced
1 red pepper (about 175g), finely diced
1 can black beans (about 425g), rinsed & drained
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp dried chilli flakes (more to taste)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 handful of coriander leaves (about 25g), roughly chopped
- Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat.
- Add the onions, red pepper and a pinch of salt to the pan. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the black beans, cumin, chilli and garlic. Sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the coriander leaves. Set aside to cool.
Ingredients for the Quesadillas
8 flour tortillas
300g cheddar cheese (grated)
- Lightly oil a large frying pan and warm over a low to medium heat.
- Place a tortilla into the pan and evenly spread about half of the zesty broccoli filling onto the tortilla.
- Sprinkle a handful of cheese across the top of the filling. Place a second tortilla on top of the cheese and cook for about 2 minutes until the bottom tortilla is golden brown.
- Use a large spatula or fish slice to flip the quesadilla and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.
- Transfer to a plate and lightly cover with a tea towel to keep warm.
- Repeat all steps above to make 4 x quesadillas (2 x zesty broccoli filling and 2 x Tex-Mex filling).
- Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve immediately.
My Italian bisnonna (great grandmother) knew that a mouth-watering meal was the best way to bring the family together and help all ages laugh and bond. This recipe is an Italian family staple as it’s simple to make, really tasty and can be kept in the fridge for three to four days for a quick lunch or snack throughout the week. Our little ones can’t get enough of this dish and take it to school for an easy lunchbox filler. Buon Appetito!
250g potatoes (white or sweet potatoes), chopped into 2cm cubes
1 large white onion (about 130g), chopped into 1cm cubes
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
3 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin if possible)
1 red pepper (about 150g), chopped into 1cm cubes
1 courgette (about 150g), grated
50g frozen peas, left in water to defrost
150g cheddar cheese (grated)
1 large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
30g self-raising flour
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
- Grease the base of a square roasting tin (approximately 18cm x 27cm and 4cm deep) and line with baking paper, extending the paper 2cm outside the edges of the tin.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and par-boil for 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and peppers and fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated courgette, peas (drained), parsley, 3/4 of the cheese, flour, cooled potatoes, cooked onion, pepper and garlic. Mix well to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and remaining oil. Pour into the large mixing bowl containing the vegetables and mix well to combine. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared roasting tin and spread the contents evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
- Transfer the roasting tin to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden.
- Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve immediately.
Spanish Chorizo and Bean Stew
Olé! Bring a little Spanish spice to your family’s mealtime with this flavourful stew. It is easy for little chefs to prepare and we love to serve this stew alongside our homemade tortillas for a quick lunch or dinner. This recipe makes six adult-sized servings which can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to three days.
1 chorizo sausage, roughly chopped into 1.5cm cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, washed, peeled and roughly chopped into 1cm cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped into 1cm cubes
2 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp chilli flakes (reduce to ½ tsp for younger palettes)
½ tsp smoked paprika
400g (1 can) butter beans, drained and rinsed (can be replaced with cannellini beans)
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
150ml chicken stock
4 tbsp fresh, flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
salt to taste
- Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute.
- Add the chopped chorizo sausage and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the edges begin to get crispy but not burnt. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a plate and allow to cool.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the same saucepan and warm over a low to medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrot and a large pinch of salt. Stir fry the vegetables, coating them in the lovely oil that has come from the chorizo. Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow to braise for 1 minute.
- Remove the lid and stir fry the carrot and onion for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves and tuck under the onions and carrots. Cover with the lid again and allow to braise for 3 to 5 minutes until the carrot has softened and the onions have become translucent.
- Stir in the garlic and chilli flakes and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the smoked paprika and combine well.
- Add the beans, tinned tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir well and bring to a simmer on low heat. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Add the cooled chorizo and stir well to combine. Partly cover with the pan lid. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and looks thicker and glossy.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Taste the stew and add more salt if needed.
- Set aside 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley and stir the remainder into the saucepan.
- Serve immediately with a pinch of the remaining parsley sprinkled across the top. Serve with crusty bread or a slice of Spanish tortilla.
Featured image courtesy of Getty, all other images courtesy of Melissa Au.