Parmigiana

Parmigiana with a pinch of healthiness.  A great vegetarian option on its own or as a side dish

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The origins of this traditional dish are disputed. Jamie Oliver refers to it as a “classic northern Italian recipe” and is in good company: Antonio Carluccio confesses “I’ve never known whether this dish is called ‘parmigiana’ because it comes from Parma, or because it’s made with Parmesan cheese”. But  although the name may be claimed by the north, Carluccio concedes that the recipe stems from Sicily in the South.

My own Parmigiana story has less exotic origins! Continue reading

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Spinach and butter bean burgers

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It is thanks to Lorraine Pascal that we first ate homemade veggie burgers in our house. Her Spicy been burgers are full of flavour and really quite substantial: “meaty” springs to mind, although obviously they are entirely meat-free!  We try to have a couple of meat-free days a week and as Lorraine’s burgers are a tried and tested formula we make them quite regularly.  To mix things up a little I decided, last week, to try out a few combinations of my own. I was really chuffed that my first creation was an instant success: we all loved them, little Coco included!  I’ve decided it’s probably very difficult to go wrong with veggie burgers.  I haven’t suddenly acquired that illusive culinary goodness status, there is simply a fantastic range of fresh veg available these days, it’s hard to go wrong!

Makes 2 large and 2-3 small burgers

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The what:

160g sweetcorn (frozen, or of course fresh).  If using frozen, cook for 2-3 minutes.

60g spinach leaves

100g feta cheese

400g butter beans

3 large spring onions, chopped

a handful (ca. 1 tbsp) basil, chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

50g panko (or fresh breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp olive oil

Tip: As we were making these for Coco and her three teeth too, I blended all of the ingredients in blender.  It makes the burgers a little wet, so you need to fry them lightly in the pan before baking so they don’t fall apart.  But for more texture mash the butter beans and mix in the beans, feta and the sweetcorn after you have blended the other ingredients.

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The how:

In a food processor combine the basil, coriander, parsley and spinach and garlic.  Next add the butter beans, spring onions, sweetcorn and pulse a little further.  Finally add the feta, egg and panko and blend to combine.  Season with a little pepper.

For more texture (see tip above) just blend the basil, coriander, parsley, spinach and garlic. Mash the butter beans and add along with the sweetcorn, spring onions, feta, panko and mix well.  Beat the egg, pour into the mixture and stir well to combine.  Season with pepper.

Shape the mixture into the burgers.

Either grill the burgers on each side until lightly browning and cooked through or fry on each side in a little olive oil. Serve with some cream fraiche and a salad.

Enjoy!

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Chicken and sweet potato in tomato sauce

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Little Coco got her first tooth recently:  a central incisor.  Judging by growing sparkle when she smiles it looks like this little tooth will shortly be joined by another two.  In the meantime we still need to blend certain foods for her (can’t wait be rid of the blender!), although I am gradually introducing more texture. It’s amazing how strong and sharp baby gums can be!

If you chop the vegetables finely, you won’t need to blend this dish much, if at all.  The sweet potato can be mashed and the chicken shredded with a knife and fork once cooked.

Makes 6 portions

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The what:

250g sweet potato, peeled and chopped

150g carrots, peeled and finely chopped

150g chicken fillets, diced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

200g plum tomatoes in natural juice

5 basil leaves, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

1/4 tbsp olive oil

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The how:

Place the sweet potato and carrots in a saucepan of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until soft.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and onions for 1-2 minutes.  They should be soft but not browning.  Then add the tomatoes and cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove the sweet potato and carrots from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the chicken to the cooking water in the saucepan and poach for 2-3 minutes.  Check the chicken is cooked through before removing from the heat.

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Mash the sweet potato and carrots and add the shredded chicken (or alternatively mix all three together and puree using a hand-held blender).  If blending, gradually add the tomato sauce – to minimise “splashage”. You may also want to wear an apron for this bit!.  Otherwise just stir the sauce into the mashed potato and chicken.  Coco loves this dish, although there isn’t much she doesn’t like!  Her tastes aren’t quite as selective or sophisticated yet…..

Happy weaning xx