What’s for lunch*: “Best ever spag bol” with chicken livers

DSCN5561

I dithered  over posting this recipe, as I know people have a bit of an “ewww” reaction to liver. But logically, if you’re happy to eat a chicken’s legs why not it’s liver?

I made it last week for lunch, it’s really tasty and nutritious and the babster loved it, I gave a little taster bowl to my eldest daughter (who’s 7) and she didn’t like it, I can’t really expect her to as I’ve never gave her chicken liver, so it’s not a flavour she’s used to (the dish isn’t overly liver tasting anyway – if that makes sense). Forcing children to eat food is a very bad idea,  getting them to try a little bit of everything is the ideal.

Anyway, please keep an open mind and try it, it’s Jack Monroe’s  spaghetti bolognese recipe posted her blog last week,  – it’s adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s  latest cookbook. I didn’t include was the chilli (for obvious reasons) or the spinach because it’s not in season at the moment so is flown in from Spain. I used organic chicken livers and I slightly adapted it by not using chilli for obvious reasons or frozen spinach – because I didn’t have any.

 

Ingredients

1 carrot peeled top and tailed and sliced
1 onion sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic crushed
1tbsp olive oil
200g chicken livers

1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
1 tsp fennel seeds
390g carton of chopped tomatoes,
1 tbsp vinegar – red wine or white wine
100g red lentils
100g spaghetti

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add the  onion, carrot and garlic.
Add the vinegar, herbs and fennel. Rinse the livers and toss them in too.
Fry everything together on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until the veg softens and the livers are sealed.
Carefully put the veg and livers into a blender with the chopped tomatoes, and blend until fairly smooth.
Pour the contents of the blender back in the pan on a medium heat, and add 200ml water, and stir well.
Rinse the lentils well and add to the pan.
Add a little more water if the sauce starts to dry out

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti to cook.

The bolognese mixture should take about 15-20 minutes to cook – the lentils should be soft.
Drain the pasta, toss the sauce through,and top with cheese to serve.

Portion sizes

These portion sizes are based on Caroline Walker Trusts Chew guidance for the first year of life and 1-4 year olds.

7-9 months : 60g bolognese to 50g pasta plus about 20g of vegetables as finger food (for this age range you can blend the bolognese and pasta together with a little of baby’s usual milk)
10-12 months : 80g bolognese to 50g pasta plus 30g vegetables as finger food (for this age range you can blend/chop the pasta to make it easier to eat)
1-4 years : 90g bolognese to 80g pasta plus 40g vegetables

Nutrition bits

Based on the above portion sizes for a 10 month old ,this dish would provide about a quarter of their daily recommended intake for iron and magnesium, 3 times their recommended Vitamin A , nearly half their recommended Vitamin B1 intake, three quarters of their Vitamin b2 intake, just under a third of their recommend B3, half their recommended B6, all their recommended folate and vitamin B12 intakes.

Dairy, egg and gluten free

If you can easily exclude these allergens if you use pasta made from rice and/or quinoa – these pastas are usually egg free too, but check the label just in case.
*What’s for lunch is a series of posts with lunch ideas and recipes for you to share with your baby and/or toddler.  Sharing the same food is all part of the social aspect of mealtimes and you’re children learn about food and eating from eating you…

Advertisements

Autumn squash spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is such a family staple in the UK. I can remember my mum’s in the 70’s. I don’t think it had any herbs, except a bayleaf or two. When I first left home, I made my spag bol the same way, but over the years it’s gone through so many changes.

In the Summer I put peppers and courgettes in but come the Autumn, they go out of season. So I wanted to try something Autumnal so thought of trying squash or pumpkin along with red lentils.

DSCN4743

As this was the first time I made it this way I wasn’t sure whether the lentils would work, so I only used 50g. I think you could increase the amount of lentils and decrease the amount of beef mince. Adding pulses or beans to meat dishes makes them go further and therefore cheaper. Lentils and beans are good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and valuable minerals and vitamins.

I am going to try and experiment a bit with the lentils and mince ratio, am sure you could make it with just the lentils (so it would be a vegetarian/vegan) dish but would need to look at whether to add stock as the lentils absorb alot of liquid. When I get a chance I will add to this post on that.


Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
500g organic British beef mince (ideally lean)
1 onion diced
1 stick of celery washed, top and tailed and diced
1 carrot top and tailed and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or dried if that’s what you’ve got)*
1 squash**
200ml low salt stock or water
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
1 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Pasta (of course, though I have to say I’m not keen on pasta, while the rest of the family is, so I often have puy lentils with my pasta sauce instead of pasta)

How to…

Heat your oven to  200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6.
Wash and cut the squash into chunky slices, cutting out the seeds in the middle (which you can roast separately in olive oil as a snack).
Mix with two tablespoons of olive oil and rub with smoked paprika then roast in a preheated tray for 20 minutes until just browning at the edges.
Allow to cool and then cut off the skin and chop into smaller bite size chunks.
Put to one side to add to the spag bol sauce later.

To make the spag bol

Sweat the onion, carrot and celery in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
When they are becoming translucent add the garlic.
Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t brown.
Then add the mince, breaking it up, but not too much so you keep some texture.
Cook the mince until browned, stirring often.
Add the red lentils and thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and stock or water.
Simmer for about 25 minutes or so, until the lentils are soft.
About 10 minutes towards the end of cooking add the squash and stir well.
Put the water on for the pasta and cook.
Serve with parmesan and side salad or veggie sticks.
Make sure it’s cooled down enough for your little ones.

For babies

DSCN4746

If  your weaning, and you don’t want to introduce gluten to your baby’s diet yet or because baby has a possible allergy or intolerance, you can use pasta made from quinoa or corn.

This recipe is suitable from about 7 months onwards, once simple first foods have been introduced. I do try as much as possible to make the same meals for the whole family, including baby, as this keeps life simple. There is no reason why babies can’t have the same as long as no salt is added or hot spices used.

For younger babies, the dish can be thinned a little with babies usual milk and then pureed to suitable consistency. From about 10 months onwards it just needs a little chopping – depending on what your baby is used to. I usually serve spoon feeding dishes like this alongside finger food. You could save some of the squash slices for your baby to have as finger food. I also give some of the pasta as a finger food.

Portion sizes

Just to give a guide on recommended portion sizes, I use Caroline Walker Trust’s CHEW! guidance. This portion size guidance was designed for early years settings, and is useful for parents too. They are based on recommended intakes for babies.

So for 7-9 month olds give about 60g of bolognese and 50g pasta with 20g veggie finger food
10-12 months : 70g bolognese and 50g pasta with 30g veggie finger food
1-5 years : 180g bolognese and 120g pasta with two 40g portions of veggies

*You can freeze the fresh herbs you buy – just put them in a sealed freezer bag.

**I used a Harlequin Squash which was about 1 kg