What’s for lunch: mackerel with puy lentils and beetroot

Mackerel, puy lentils and beetroot

“What’s for lunch” is a series of recipes and ideas for lunches that you can share with your baby or toddler (though you don’t have to have a baby or toddler to make these dishes).

This makes a nice, easy and very nutritious lunch. The puy lentils and beetroot salad works well with feta cheese or goats cheese sprinkled on top (though those flavours are probably too strong for a little one) it makes a good packed lunch, or picnic salad.

Mackerel has just come back into season (its out of season February to May) so it’s something we have quite often now. The girls love it. I get them filleted, and then carefully check for bones before cooking (usually with tweezers) and also when I flake it for my youngest daughter after cooking.

You will need…

2-4 fillets of mackerel (if you buy 4 you will have enough left overs to make fishcakes)
100g puy lentils
4-6 bulbs of beetroot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
A handful of salad leaves

How to…

Preheat your oven to about 200Β°c, gas mark 5.
Scrub about 4-5 beetroot bulbs and top and tail them and put on roasting tray.
Drizzle with olive oil and roast for between 45 minutes to an hour depending on size, until they are soft (if you haven’t got so much time then half them before roasting).
Allow to cool and then peel, cut into chucks and put to one side.

Baked the mackerel on a tray in the oven with the beetroot for about 15 minutes (or grill it).
Rinse puy lentils then cook in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, until just soft.
Then rinse through with cold water.
Put the lentils in a bowl with the beetroot scattered on top.
I had some leftover rocket too so added that – usually I would add more, baby spinach, parsley or basil could work just as well.
Make a dressing with about 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice) to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Put in a jar and shake to mix well and then drizzle some over the lentil salad on your plate (it might be a strong flavour for your little one though you could try putting a little on their plate to mix in with the lentils, keep the rest of the dressing in the fridge.

I had a leftover roast potatoes from Sunday lunch so warmed them through for my daughter. You could give a slice of bread, some pasta shapes or other root to give a mixture of high fibre and low fibre carbs.


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Nutrition bits

So you probably already know that mackerel is a fatty fish so is a good source of omega 3 fats. Overall this meal provides high amounts of protein, fibre, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12 and iodine. It provides lots of other nutrients too numerous to list.

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Easy mackerel fish cakes

The 5 year old had mackerel, mash and veg for supper last night. Doesn’t sound exciting, but was a good simple meal that went down well.

I had the fish gutted in the supermarket and had baked it whole in foil at 200˚C for about 15-20 minutes.

Of course she didn’t eat it all, so I mixed left over fish and mash and left it in the fridge.

So Saturday lunch was easy, cheap, sustainable, healthy (Omega 3’s of course) and delicious.

Ingredients…

Mackerel
Mashed potato
A little butter
A little sunflower oil
Flour
Finely chopped parsley

How to….

Take the mackerel off the bones, checking the flesh for bones as you go.
Mix in with the mash (and finely chopped parsley if using).
You want a roughly equal amount of fish and potato – taste to check. Its easier to add more potato if you need to.
You want a good mackerel flavour – so you don’t want too much potato.
Put some flour in a flat bowl or plate.
Shape the fish and mash mixture into balls (ping pong ball size) and then pat into fish cake shapes.
Cover the cakes with flour.
Heat a good knob of butter with a teaspoon of sunflower oil in a frying pan.
The oil helps prevent the butter from burning.
On a medium heat Fry the cakes for 3-5 minutes each size, until golden.
Serve with plenty of seasonal veg.
You could serve with good quality bread and butter for extra hungry children.

This recipe is a little bit of an experiment, it has no amounts. Let me know if it works for you…if it doesn’t will make the dish again, and include the weights in the ingredients…

I do think this recipe works well for children who have previously refused the strong mackerel flavour as the potato tones it down a little.