Vegetarian spag bol recipe

I can’t remember when I started making this dish but it’s one of those midweek family meals that’s developed and changed over time. The best time of year to eat it is the Summer or early Autumn when courgettes, peppers and celery are all in season – that way you get 8 different vegetables into the dish. From what I’ve seen, kids really seem to like puy lentils – maybe because they aren’t soggy and they retain their firm structure – as long as they aren’t over-cooked. So it makes a good alternative to meat spaghetti bolognese. I’m not keen on pasta, so I usually a bowl of the puy lentil bolognese just by itself. If you have any raw tomatoes that have gone a bit too soft to eat in a salad, then you can chop them and add them along with the chopped tomatoes. veggie spag bol

You will need… 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika (optional) 1 teaspoon mixed herbs 1-2 garlic cloves 1 medium onion 1 medium carrot A celery stick 150g  mushrooms 1 courgette 1 pepper 400g Carton of chopped tomatoes* tablespoon tomato puree 100g puy lentils Handful of fresh basil How to… Wash and top and tail (where need be) the veg and dice. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Rinse the puy lentils and add to the boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes until soft enough to eat but not too soft. Drain and put to one side. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sweat until softened and translucent. Add the courgette, pepper and mushrooms stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the smoked paprika and mixed herbs and cook for a few more minutes. Then put the puy lentils in and stir. Pour in the chopped tomatoes (and raw ones if you’re using them) and stir well. Add the tomato puree. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reducing nicely (this intensify’s the flavour). You don’t want to cook it for too long though otherwise the vegetables begin to loose their colour. Add chopped basil a minute or two before you take it off the heat. Serve with pasta and parmesan. dished up veggie spag bol
Allergens You can obviously make this dish dairy free by not including the parmesan and/or egg free or gluten free by using gluten free/egg free pasta. *When I made this dish today, I used an extra 200g of chopped tomatoes that I had left over from another dish. If it looks like you need more tomatoes or liquid, just add a bit more or if you don’t have any more, just rinse out your chopped tomato carton with a little water and pour it into the pan. Or you could use 1 or two raw tomatoes.

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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 200°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.