Tag Archives: Spinach

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

I feel I should start this post by way of an apology. It’s an awful photo. I know. It shall be replaced next time I make this pie, and being such a tasty pie as it is this won’t be long. But as time is most definitely in short supply right now I’m going with the shameful shot in order to make another entry to this month’s Four Seasons Food challenge.

I’d also like to take to take the opportunity to offer huge and well deserved congratulations to my friend and partner in foodie crime for the Four Seasons Food challenge, Anneli! If you haven’t already heard she won the glittering Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Food award on Friday night for her gorgeous and inspiring Delicieux blog. I believe she’s still getting over the hangover and on her way back to rural SW France as I write. Well done Anneli, so can’t wait to help you celebrate!

So on to the Pie. I’ve been intending to bake this pie for a long long time, and despite the sad photos it was stunningly tasty. And took me right back to many a happy Greek joliday of yonder year. Though also made me a little sad, sad in the sense it was made with shop bought spinach and not Chez Foti spinach which until recently has been growing in huge abundance. As my garden winds up there’s very little greenery out there any more, bar a barrage of weeds and lots of (overgrown) herbs. In case you didn’t know I’m moving back to the UK this summer, back with the littlies to be nearer my family in gorgeous and foodie Herefordshire. Which funnily enough is very similar and gentle countryside to where I live now, minus the Pyrenees obviously!. And one day very soon I’ll be very excited to start another veggie plot on English soil. But more on my new venture in another blog soon.

Anyway, I digress again. Back to the pie, which was a real doddle to make. And makes for a wonderful cold or warm picnic, lunch or dinner munch. Don’t be put off by the filo, it’s so easy to use and very forgiving in any shape or form!. The pie’s assembled in a flash, simply a matter of sweating a little onion and garlic, followed by a seemingly monstrous amount of fresh spinach. A stirring in of lightly beaten eggs flavoured with nutmeg and a little Dijon mustard, pine kernels, parsley and feta. Then spooning into a filo pastry shell, topped with more filo and baked for a mere 30 minutes.

fsf-summerNaturally I shall be entering my picnic-perfect pie to the Four Cooking-with-HerbsSeasons Food challenge, a new monthly event hosted by myself and (award winning!) Anneli at Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s aptly Picnics and Outdoor Nibbles. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event,Simple and in Season Ren Behans Simple and in Season and Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.Made with Love Mondays

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

Spinach & Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Great For: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers (if they’re not green adverse!), Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Week-end Slowies, Picnics, Nibbles, Mains, Lunches, Dinners, Dinner Parties, Parties, Spinach Growers (sob, sob)

Notes: Substitute fresh spinach for the same weight in frozen spinach which has defrosted (no need to wilt)

Serves: 4-6 large slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, medium sized, medium dice

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

500g fresh spinach, washed & dried and roughly shredded

2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley

200g Feta cheese, crumbled

50g pine kernels

3 free range eggs

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

pepper

4 large or 8 small sheets filo pastry

40ml olive oil

Special Equipment: a small ovenproof baking tray, pie dish or tart tin (roughly 20 x 20), round square or oblong! A pastry brush.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan on a low to medium heat. Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

3. With the pan still on the heat stir in the spinach, in batches, until it’s all wilted. It helps to have a saucepan lid. Once wilted take off the heat and set aside.

4. Stir into the spinach the parsley, Feta and pine kernels. Lightly whisk together the eggs with the nutmeg and Dijon mustard. Stir the eggs into the spinach along with a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Ensure everything’s very well combined.

5. Grease your chosen dish or tin liberally with olive oil. Line it with a small sheet of filo pastry or half a large sheet (letting the other half of a larger sheet hang over one side – it will form the top once the filling’s been added). Brush the sheet with olive oil before adding another layer. Continue until you have 4 base layers of filo.

6. Spoon in the spinach mix and evenly spread. Layer 4 small sheets of filo pastry on the top, brushing on oil between each and tucking the edges into the sides to seal the pie. I like to scrunch them up for effect. If using the larger sheets turn them over and scrunch them onto to the top of the pie and tuck into the sides. It might look messy but filo pies are very forgiving!.

7. Brush the top with olive oil if you haven’t already done so. Place in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until set, golden and crispy. Turn out of the dish, if you dare, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Lovely warm or cold.

You might also like:

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

It’s really REALLY cold here. Bitter. Wet. Icy. Windy. Needless to say I’m avoiding leaving the snugly fires of our house as much as possible, even to go shopping. And being the frugal month of January I’m attempting a fridge, freezer and cupboard blow out using up a whole host of lurking need-to-be-used ingredients. On a recent inspection I handily discovered a tub of almost-out-date ricotta as well as a ball of just-out-of-date mozzarella, dried cannelloni that I’ve had for too long to mention, frozen spinach that somehow never gets used in our house and frozen chopped tomatoes that are still cramming up the freezer from last summer’s enormous glut, plus some pumpkin (I still have six to munch through!) and a random red pepper. So I set to to make stuffed cannelloni placating any requirement to leave the confines of Chez  Foti and brave the weather.

So a vegged and healthied-up version (I can’t help it!) of a Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni (flavoured with a little Parmesan and Nutmeg) was born, covered with oodles of Tomato Sauce enriched with Celery, Carrot, Pumpkin & Pepper. Then topped with a little Mozzarella and Parmesan and baked in the oven.  And the kids ate it. Even enjoyed it. Admittedly not without a good deal of ‘encouragement’ at first, but that was to do with the off-putting (to them) abundance of green in the cannelloni, which on tasting they did actually like. Job done. Oodles of veggies filling those precious wee tummies. And one happy Mummy. And us grown up folk enjoyed it too!

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

Incidentally this is a great tommie sauce to serve on it’s own with pasta, I’ve been making a version of it (Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce) for years for my monsters and they always love it. It’s also a great way of ‘healthying-up’ a homemade pizza, and they’ll never know!

I’m entering my blog, for the first ever time to the first ever Pasta Please, a monthly blogging event held by Jacqueline of the wonderfully inspirational Vegetarian blog Tinned Tomatoes. This month’s theme happens to be Cheese and since my dish contains a trio of Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan I think I qualify!

pasta please

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Vegetables Tomato Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Perfect for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers

Serves 4 hearty appetites (or a family of 4 with plenty of tasty leftovers):

For the  Hidden Veggie Tommie Sauce:

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

a small Onion, diced

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

a large Carrot*, diced

a stick or two of Celery*, diced

200g of Pumpkin or Squash*, diced

half a Red Pepper*, diced

600g of Chopped Tomatoes (a can and a half)

a heaped dessertspoon of Tomato Puree

130ml of water

a teaspoon of dried Oregano or a dessertspoon of chopped fresh Oregano

Salt & Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

* Please use whatever veggies you happen to have in, though to aid your disguise it’s best to stick to neutral or orange/red coloured ones!

For the Stuffed Cannelloni:

160g of dried Cannelloni

350g of frozen Spinach, defrosted (or finely shredded and steamed fresh spinach)

a 250g tub of Ricotta

40g of Parmesan (or Grana Padano), finely grated

a large pinch of Nutmeg

a large pinch of Black Pepper

a squeeze or two of Lemon juice

For the Topping:

a 125g ball of Mozzarella

30g of Parmesan (or Grana Padano), finely grated

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Start with making your sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and all other veggies bar the tomatoes.

After 10 minutes throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, dried oregano (if using), water and a pinch each of pepper, salt and sugar. No salt for very little littlies! Allow to simmer away for 20 minutes or until all the veggies are very tender.

Once cooked take off the heat and stir in the fresh oregano (if using). Blitz the sauce with a stick blender or in a processor until smooth. Taste and season if necessary.

Meanwhile prep the cannelloni. Mix together the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Season with a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Now for the messy business of filling up the cannelloni tubes!. I found a very good tip on Jamie Oliver’s site of using a plastic bag with a snipped corner to pipe the filling in. It worked wonderfully and was no fiddle at all.

Filling cannelloni

Filling the Cannelloni with the snipped corner of a plastic bag!

Place your filled cannelloni in the bottom of a greased (with a little olive oil) small baking tray or oven dish. The pasta should fit snugly.

Now smother in the Tommie Sauce. Top with the mozzarella slices and the parmesan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the pasta’s cooked through and the cheese golden and bubbling on the top.

Go eat. My kids ate there’s as is, but us grown up folk had a simple green salad on the side.

Here’s some of my other spectacularly well Hidden-Veggie dinners that go down well with the wee folk!:

Kids Bolognese
Super-Seasonally Vegged-Up Cottage Pie
Cheese, Courgette & Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding
Chicken & Apricot Tagine
Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice
Super-Vegged Up Chilli
Kids Fish Pie
Noodles with Pork & Veggies
Cream of Veggie Super Soup
Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes
 
Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Savoury Bread & Butter Puddin

Kids Fish Pie in Oogaa bowls

Kids Fish Pie

Super Vegged Chilli con Carne

Super Vegged-Up Chilli con Carne


Thai Green Curry Paste & Curries

Older kids, Big People

I adore the fragrancy of Thai food and really miss the Thai restaurants and take aways that are so plentiful in the UK. You can actually buy the odd jarred paste here but on the whole they’re pretty awful. And making my own paste is generally a rare and special treat in rural, and distinctly un-multicultural France. Getting hold of lemon grass and lime leaves is nigh on impossible (well unless I want to make a five hour round trip, or so I’m told), even getting the chillies, limes and fresh ginger can be a tricky affair. As for the coriander you’ve really got to grow your own and if truth be known I struggle with it, over the last year I’ve probably set it off to grow ten times and only harvested a couple of curries worth. But suddenly for no apparent reason I’ve a bumper crop and have been busy using it in all manner of fragrant dishes I don’t normally get a chance to make the last couple of weeks. Joy. Coriander coupled with a very exciting delivery of goodies from the UK, brought over by my brother in law, has meant a fabulously fragrant batch of Thai Green Curry Paste. Though I’m saddened to say after three large curries in the last week it’s now all gone, but I’ve still just enough ingredients to make another. Boy it’s good.

Making a paste is surprisingly quick and easy, simply a matter of throwing all the ingredients in a blender or processor and blitzing. My recipe below makes enough for ten people, and it can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to three weeks, as if you could possibly refrain from using it that long (I managed five days). From then on the curry’s a fast food cinch too as pretty much all the flavouring’s done for you, 25 minutes tops.

The Paste

The last week we’ve had a gorgeous King Prawn, Courgette & Spinach Curry as well as a Chicken, Chard & Courgette one. Both totally divine. I tend to veg up my dinners (though you’ve probably worked that one by now!) but feel free to omit or vary the veggies or the meat.

This is really a dinner for grown ups or big kids that can take a little heat. It can be adapted for littlies by only adding the merest touch of paste and upping the ratio of coconut milk or making a milder paste altogether. Both work for my kids (they’re big Green Curry fans now), and I’m planning on blogging a specificly child friendly version shortly.

The Paste

enough for 10 big people

4 medium green chillies, roughly chopped

2 shallots, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, skin removed, grated

a large handful of coriander including the stalks (and the roots as well if you grow your own), washed and roughly chopped

2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped

the juice of a lime

the zest of 2 limes (if you’re lucky enough to have kaffir lime leaves then substitute one of the zested limes for 8 leaves)

a tablespoon of coriander seeds, crushed in a pestel and mortar

a teaspoon of black peppercorns, crushed in a pestel and mortar

a teaspoon of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of Thai fish sauce

3 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processer and blitz into a paste. The aroma is simply breathtaking!.

Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Chicken, Courgette & Chard Thai Green Curry

The 3 Cs, Chicken, Courgette & Chard

enough for 4 big people (with big appetites!)

2 tablespoons of sunflower or groundnut oil

a large onion, diced

2 heaped tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste (either the above homemade paste or shop bought)

3 or 4 free range chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (about 5 or 6 per breast)

400ml of coconut milk

Thai fish sauce

a pinch of sugar

2 courgettes, quartered lengthways then sliced

a couple of handfuls of swiss chard, the stems separated from the leaves and both shredded separately

juice of a lime

a large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped (including the stalks)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, deep sided frying pan or wok (preferably something you have a lid to) on a medium heat. Throw in the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute or so more stirring constantly. Add the chicken pieces and briefly coat in the paste before pouring in the coconut milk, a generous shake of Thai fish sauce and a pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir and cover for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes throw in the the sliced courgettes and shredded chard stems. Stir and cover and cook again for about 8 minutes. Now add the shredded chard leaves, stir and cover again. Leave to wilt down for a couple of minutes. Once all the veggies and chicken are cooked and tender, take off the heat and stir in the lime juice and coriander. Have a taste check and season with more fish sauce to suit.

Serve immediately with steamed Thai Jasmine Rice.

King Prawn, Courgette & Spinach Thai Green Curry

King Prawn, Courgette & Spinach Thai Green Curry

Enough for 4 big people:

2 tablespoons of sunflower or groundnut oil

a large onion, diced

2 heaped tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste (either the above homemade paste or shop bought)

300g of fresh or frozen uncooked king prawns (defrosted if frozen)

2 courgettes, quartered lengthways then sliced fairly thinly

400ml of coconut milk

Thai fish sauce

a pinch of sugar

4 very large handfuls of spinach, washed and shredded

juice of a lime

a large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped (including the stalks)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, deep sided frying pan or wok (preferably something you have a lid to) on a medium heat. Throw in the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute or so more stirring constantly. Add the prawns and courgettes and coat everything briefly in the paste before pouring in the coconut milk and a generous shake of the Thai fish sauce. Give everything a good stir and cover for 8 minutes.

Now stir in the spinach and cover again. Leave to wilt down for a couple of minutes. Once all the veggies and prawns are cooked and tender, take off the heat and stir in the lime juice and coriander. Have a taste check and season with more fish sauce to suit.

Serve immediately with steamed Thai Jasmine Rice.

How about trying some of my other curry recipes? Chochori, Swiss Chard & Potato, Beetroot, Spinach & Chickpea, Aloo Gobi Kaddu


Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups

In my continued efforts to blog more veggie dishes here’s another popular family dinner at Chez Foti, my very green super-healthy risotto that I’ve actually been making for years as a quickie mid-week supper. Packed full of the good stuff as well as tastiness from the pesto and sun dried tommies this is an all round pleaser for littlies and big people alike.

It hit me a few months ago that I was sub-consciously shying away from giving the kids green dinners as for some daft reason I thought they wouldn’t buy it. How wrong was I. As long as the base flavour’s good they’ll eat anything, spinach and all. Since my moment of realisation I’ve been bombarding them with spinach and chard based risottos, pasta sauces, stir fries and thai green curries and so far they’ve happily gobbled down each and every one. And pesto being such a pleasing flavour to most littlies provides the perfect flavour vessel. In truth I’ve also shied away from risotto for the kids too as Francesca was never too keen, but she seems to be really enjoying them now. Rock on the risottos!

This was one of our first ‘freebie’ dinners of the year with most of the ingredients being picked fresh out of the garden, and notably used the first of many of the courgettes. I’ve seven plants which should ensure us in consistent supply for some time. The spinach, shallots and garlic were all Chez Foti homegrown too. Admittedly I used shop bought pesto for my risotto this time but I did make my own all last summer. The basil plants are all a little on the weeny side for pesto making as of yet this year.

In writing this post I’m also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulucious Food Simple and In Season blog event, hosted this month by Homemade by Fleur

The First Courgette of 2012!

Popeyetastic Spinach!

Enough for a Family of Four or Three Big People

3 tablespoons of olive oil

a small onion or 2 shallots, very finely diced

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

220g of risotto rice

a small glass of white wine

700ml of hot vegetable stock (I like to use Marigold)

a courgette, diced

200g of spinach, washed and shredded

70g of drained sun dried tomatoes, chopped

3 tablespoons of homemade or shop bought pesto

salt and pepper

grated parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to give everything a stir from time to time.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in another ladleful together with the diced courgette. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is absorbed. If you run out of stock before the rice is tender add a little boiling water.

When the rice is almost tender stir in the shredded spinach, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and a generous pinch of black pepper.

Once the rice is cooked and spinach wilted remove from the heat. Taste and add more pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any salt as there’s plenty in the stock and pesto.

Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

How about trying some of my other risotto recipes: Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto or Squash & Goats Cheese.


Chochori, Swiss Chard & Potato Curry

Bigger Kids, Grown Ups

We seem to have been eating quite a bit of meat lately, at least on the cyber world of the blog we do anyway, and I thought it time for a few more veggie dinners especially as my veg patch is busily coming into its own. This was one of our first ‘free’ dinners of the year with the two main ingredients, swiss chard and potatoes, both being picked and dug fresh from the garden minutes before. In fact these were our first potatoes of the year, and I can think of no better dish right now to celebrate them more than this fabulous curry. It still gives me a buzz to eat things I’ve grown myself and I’m convinced they always taste just that little bit more amazing. And it goes without saying they’re naturally all 100% organic.

The recipe, at least in the main, came from the lovely Nisha Katona of Curry in a a Hurry and her maa. Weirdly enough I was thinking of making a chard curry when would you adam and eve it, up popped a tweet from Nisha about her maa’s chard curry video. I watched, laughed (her maa’s a star!), absorbed and set to to make my own using all the same spices but guessing on quantities. So my apologies now to you both if I’m way out but the resulting curry was no less than wonderful in my opinion. And further apologies to maa that I didn’t use mooli, there’s no way I’d be able to source it in rural and notably un-multicural rural France! The spices I was lucky enough to have in, and I could even make by own fabulously fragrant Indian 5 spice seed mix called Panch Phoron (equal quantities of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and celery seeds, the latter added to replace the traditionally included black mustard seeds that I didn’t have).

Indian 5 spice seeds, Panch Phoron

I’m thinking you could happily use any veggies in this curry substituting part or all of the chard or spinach, but I was on a mission to use up as much chard as I could in one dinner so kept it simple. Great as a very healthy main served with steamed rice and/or chapattis or as a side accompanying other dishes.

Enough for four as a main or lots more as a veggie side:

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
3 heaped teaspoons of Indian 5 Spice seed mix, Panch Poran
an onion, finely diced
500g of potatoes, new or old, roughly chunked (I left the peel on mine)
2 whole dried chillies (I used birds eyes)
700g of Swiss chard, spinach or other veggies (including mooli if you can source)
a heaped teaspoon of turmeric
½ a teaspoon of dried chilli powder
a generous pinch of salt
a heaped teaspoon of English mustard powder thinned down in a tablespoon of water

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and throw in the 5 spice. Cook for a couple of minutes or so until you can really smell the spices, but not so much the spices blacken.

Tip in the onion, potatoes (and any other slow to cook veggies you may be using) and whole dried chillies. Cover and cook for about ten minutes until almost soft, stirring regularly so nothing catches, and adding a splash of water rather than more oil if the pan dries out.

Meanwhile prepare your chard or spinach. If using chard tear any thick stems from the leaves, slice the stems and shred the leaves, keeping both separate. Shred the spinach.

Throw in the chard stems to the curry and cook for a few minutes. When the potatoes and chard are soft and cooked through add the chilli powder, turmeric, salt and shredded chard leaves or spinach. Cook for a moment or two longer until the leaves are wilted then take off the heat. Season with the thinned down mustard and a little more salt to taste.

Serve with steamed rice and/or chapatties, lovely with a little homemade mango chutney on the side.

How about trying some of my other curry recipes: Aloo Gobi Kaddu (Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin), Beetroot, Spinach & Chick Peas, Jamie’s Empire Chicken & Bombay Potatoes, Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers

Be sure to check out some of Nisha’s excellent home curry making videos, a great way to quickly and easily learn how to cook authentic indian fodder.


Two Baby Pasta & Puree Recipes!

7-9 months +

Here’s a couple of colourful first pasta sauce/purée recipes which are perfect for babies moving on from puréed food to the world of soft lumps. The sauces are puréed and mixed with the smallest pasta you can find, teeny weeny pasta stars are ideal and easily available at most larger supermarkets or pharmacies selling baby products. They’re a brilliant introduction to pasta and most babies love their very soft texture.

My first recipe is for a super-nutritious super-green Avocado, Spinach & Cream Cheese Sauce which my kids simply adored! Avocado’s are a wonderful source of potassium and vitamins B, E and K, and spinach is a popeye-tastic source of iron, antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E and K.

It actually makes a fab purée in it’s own right without the pasta for the really little littlies, or a great sandwich filling, toast topping or finger food dip for the bigger babs. I’m also pretty partial to it myself! Unlike most baby foods this isn’t a recipe you can make in larger quantities and store as the avocado blackens pretty quickly over time.

Makes enough for 2 portions:
30g of frozen spinach, defrosted (or a handful of fresh spinach leaves washed, shredded and steamed in a little water in a microwave for a couple of minutes)
½ a small avocado, skin and stone removed, cut into a large dice
25g of full fat cream cheese
a tiny pinch of very finely ground black pepper
30g of baby pasta (stars are perfect if you can source)

Cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water to packet instructions, pasta stars take about 6 minutes. I tend to ever so slightly over cook the pasta when first weaning babies on to lumps.

Put all the other ingredients together and blend to a super smooth purée (using a stick blender, Baby Bullet or processor).
Stir the hot pasta into the purée and serve!

My second recipe is for a gorgeously Creamy Tomato Sauce. Tomatoes are a great antioxidant and supplier of vitamins A and C. Being a bit of a garlic fiend I like to add a little to a babies diet very early on. Babies love lots of flavour, not that you would guess this from the multitude of disgustingly bland jarred baby foods that are sadly for sale. You can make this sauce in larger quantities and happily refrigerate or freeze.

makes enough for 5-6 portions:
2 tomatoes
a desert spoon of olive oil
½ a clove of garlic
1⁄6th of a small onion
a tiny pinch of very finely ground black pepper
80g of baby pasta
40g of full fat cream cheese

Start by removing the skin from the tomatoes (which may be hard to digest for little tums). You can do this by emerging the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for a couple of minutes, this softens the skins and makes them easily peelable. Once peeled finely dice.

Finely chop the garlic and onion. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a very low heat and add the garlic and onion. Stirring regularly cook for 3 minutes until softened.

Stir in the tomatoes and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook on a very gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water to packet instructions, pasta stars take about 6 minutes. I tend to ever so slightly over cook the pasta when first weaning babies on to lumps.

After the tomatoes have cooked for 10 minutes remove from the heat, stir in the cream cheese and blend to a super smooth purée (using a stick blender, Baby Bullet or processor).

Combine the pasta with the sauce and serve!

Here’s my baby (he’s nearly two!) still enjoying my creamy tomato sauce:


Beetroot, Spinach & Chickpea Curry

Guess what’s in season at Chez Foti at the minute? Beetroot, hence the recent influx of recipes! It’s probably growing a little later than most as I didn’t get around to sowing my seeds until early October. What an easy peasy veggie to grow and so so delicioso. Not to mention pretty as a picture to cook with, if you don’t mind your food a tad on the barbie pink side!. This is my first ever attempt at a beetroot curry and I must admit a highly successful one. Beetroot’s natural sweetness works really well with a touch of heat and spice.

And a very healthy recipe too, great if you’re still keeping up those New Year’s resolutions. Which I’m not. Failing miserably as ever.

More of a grown up curry today, but you could always tone down the chilli and serve to your wee ones. They may just love a pink dinner!

Although I’ve called this a Beetroot, Spinach and Chickpea Curry, I actually used my beetroot tops instead of spinach, but I’m guessing these are only available to those that grow their own. I use them regularly in stews, curries and stir fries just as you would spinach, and if you don’t mind the pink tinge from the stalks they’re a wonderful veggie freebie.

Either serve the curry on it’s own with steamed rice and/or chapattis, or as a veggie side to accompany a larger meal.

Enough for 4 as a main curry, or lots more as a veggie side

2 tsp of cumin seeds

2 tsp of coriander seeds

1 heaped tsp of turmeric

sunflower oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, grated

a thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

3 small dried chillies, finely chopped

6 baby beetroot or 1 to 2 large full sized ones, cooked and cooled (see my Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad recipe for how to cook beetroot), diced into 1 cm pieces

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of chick peas

200ml of water

200ml of plain yogurt

200g of spinach leaves or beetroot tops, washed and roughly chopped

salt & pepper

juice of ½ a lemon

Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric together.

In a large saucepan or frying pan, heat a little sunflower oil and fry the spice mix until you can smell the spices, stir continuously so the spices don’t catch and burn. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a minute or two, stirring continuously. Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are soft.

Now add the beetroot and chickpeas and cook for a further few minutes, stirring regularly. Add the chopped tomatoes, yogurt and water, bring to the boil and simmer for twenty minutes.

Finally add the spinach or beetroot tops to the curry and cook for a few minutes until the greens are tender.

Stir in the lemon juice, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Have a good taste to check the seasoning, adding more lemon, salt or pepper to suit.

If you like this, how about trying my Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad or Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry recipes?


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