Some parents are lucky enough to have children that actually welcome whole vegetables on their plates, however with my boys most veg need to be encouraged or even disguised. A vegetable soup or even a vegetable curry is better received when there is no visible evidence of healthy vegetables lurking in their bowls. I dread rows at the kitchen table so in a bid to avoid them I generally try to cook foods in a way that I know my kids will eat and more importantly enjoy. Anyway I find that day to day life runs a little smoother when all in the house have eaten well!
My reliable hand blender has become an invaluble piece of equipement in my kitchen. When blending a sauce or soup you are still introducing lots of wonderful flavours and nutrition to a dish without suspicious little ones realising what they are enjoying. Luckily I know this fussiness is short lived and I won't be forever reliant on my trusty hand blender. Until then I am content to blend my sauces in a bid to keep peace at mealtimes.
Hidden Veg Pasta Bake with Chicken Strips
For the Pasta Sauce
drizzle of olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1/2 stick of celery
1/2 cougette, diced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
100g mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp caster sugar
1tsp chilli powder
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
2 tsp Fresh Basil, chopped
For the fried chicken
3 chicken fillets, cut into strips
2 tbsp plain flour
knob of butter and drizzle of rapeseed oil
500g cooked wholewheat pasta
50g Parmesan, grated
125g mozzarella, sliced
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
1. Melt the butter with the drizzle of oil in a large saucepan, and add the onion, courgette, red pepper, mushroom and garlic. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the sugar.
2. Cook on a medium heat for about five minutes untill the vegetables have just begun to soften. Add the tomatoes and water. Cook for a further ten minutes.
3. Add the chilli powder, cream and basil to the pan. Simmer until the mixture has reduced, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, as necessary. Blend the sauce together using a hand blender.
4. Toss the chicken in the seasoned flour.
5. Melt the butter with a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken strips. Cook on both sides until golden and cooked through.
6. Add the cooked pasta and cooked chicken strips to the pasta sauce and stir well.
7. Transfer all to an oven proof casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top.
8. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the dish is golden.
This article was published in Issue one of Easy Parenting.