Children + vegetables? Done.

e30a7ef3a5285e713633ebe00c2a68b8Apologies for the delay to today’s post. I have spent the entire morning faffing around with emergency dentist appointments. Impacted wisdom tooth with severe infection. Nice. Anyway. Back in the land of the blogging, albeit with an elephantine jaw, horse-strength antibiotics and instructions to swill my mouth with salt water. It’s like swimming in the sea – only entirely without any of the fun what-so-ever. Teeth. Tricksy devils.  Anyway, enough of my dental woes. Onto today’s preoccupation: children and vegetables…

Are your children good eaters? Do they eat raw vegetables in the manner of French children? Request fruit for snacks (and not in Bear Fruit form)?

My daughter is pretty good. Not as good as when we first weaned her – when she’d eat anything (bar parsnips, which – to me – was eminently sensible). Now she has opinions: broccoli is fine, carrots are not (go figure). Anything on pasta works. Strawberries are heaven but blueberries are So Over (I think she OD’d on them). Smoked salmon and mackerel? Bring them on.

It’s the veg thing which bugs me. I want her to eat her rainbow, not just broccoli and sweetcorn. Which is why that this recipe is a total lifesaver – and delicious to boot (good for parents, too – although you may need to season it with salt and pepper). It’s from Joanna Weinberg’s brilliant Cooking for Real Life.

Any other genius ideas (re vegetables or teeth, I’m not fussy). Send ’em my way.

Many Veg Bolognese

Feeds 4 adults

2 onions

2 sticks celery

2 large or 4 medium carrots

1 medium parsnip

½ butternut squash

¼ cauliflower

Olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed

600g beef mince

100ml whole milk

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 sprigs thyme

200ml chicken stock, red wine, white wine or water (I use stock for children)

Worcestershire sauce, to taste

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

Pasta and mash and cheese, to serve

Roughly chop all the fresh veg and put them in a food processor to pulse into fairly small pieces.

Pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil into a large flameproof casserole and fry the vegetables over a high heat until they are sizzling. Before they begin to colour, lower the heat and cook gently, stirring from time to time for 20 minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Preheat the oven to 160/gas 3.

Meanwhile, brown the meat in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, breaking it up as you go. Now add the milk. Bring to a bubble and scrape up all the caramelised bits, allowing the milk to nearly evaporate, then transfer everything to the vegetable casserole. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring just to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1½-2 hours, checking the liquid every so often, topping up with water if necessary.

Set aside to cool a little, skim the surface of excess fat and remove the thyme stalks. Serve. Feel smug that your children are imbibing copious quantities of veg.

Picture via Pinterest

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