Very Vegetable Chilli Con Carne

I think lots of people assume that because we live on a beef farm, we eat roast dinners every day. This couldn’t be further from the truth in our case; my husband and I often eat vegetarian meals, or meals that contain very little meat. In most of my cooking I aim for quality of meat over quantity. I try to by local, organic meat wherever possible. We are lucky to have an excellent butcher in the next village to us who supplies meat from local farms. I like to know where my food has come from and I do find the flavour to be superior, especially with minced meat. Minced beef that you get in a supermarket is okay, but I do find it lacking in any meaningful flavour. I would much rather buy beef and have it minced by the butcher in front of me. It can be more expensive but that is precisely why I choose to use less of it.

This recipe is a perfect example of just that. It won’t win any prizes for Mexican authenticity but its a delicious nutrient-dense powerhouse. It is also a brilliant way of sneaking extra vegetables into fussy eaters –  there are no less than 8 vegetables in this chilli!

It also makes a wonderful meal for babies or children. It can be blended or pulsed for those who are eating purees. If you can handle the mess utter carnage, you can feed it as finger food alongside flatbreads to dunk/scoop, or you can load spoons of it and hand them to your little one. However you choose to feed it, this chilli is packed with iron, protein and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals needed for their growth and development. I tend to pulse this for Will and add a spoon of full fat yoghurt to it, adding a little calcium hit and making it creamier.

I tend to make this with flatbreads (the most versatile bread dough) or simply with brown rice. Its also rather delicious on its own, in a bowl in front of the TV after a busy day!

Ingredients 

This quantity serves 6 people easily. I tend to cook in larger batches and freeze portions  for busy days. 

  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of pinto/kidney beans
  • 2 courgettes, grated
  • 1 large handful of chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 peppers, deseeded & chopped
  • 6 tablespoons of lentils, red, green or puy – or a mixture of all three
  • A little oil for softening the onion and garlic

Spices- this is just a guide, its what I like to add. I remove Will’s and then add the chilli to just the adult portions, but it really is up to you.

  • 2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1Tsp paprika
  • 1Tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tsp chilli powder

 

Method

  • Brown your minced beef in a wide base frying pan
  • Finely chop the onion and garlic and sweat in a large saucepan using a little oil (I use olive oil) on a low heat. You don’t want them to colour, just soften.
  • Grate the courgette using a coarse grater
  • Chop the peppers finely
  • Once the onion and garlic have softened add the spices (except the chilli if making this for little ones) and stir on the heat until the aromas are released
  • Add the beef to the saucepan, as well as the peppers, grated courgette and lentils
  • Add two tins of tomatoes and one tin of drained beans
  • Add roughly a pint of water
  • Simmer on a low heat for around 45 minutes with a lid on. After this time the  lentils should be cooked and the sauce reduced slightly.
  • Before serving add the chilli if you haven’t already and the handful of spinach.

 

 

 

 

Tiny turkey burgers for tiny tot hands 

Nothing says summer to me like the smell of mint and basil in my kitchen. I also love using herbs and spices to make William’s meals more exciting. These turkey burgers are great finger food for babies, full of protein and vegetables. They can be eaten warm or cold and the recipe can be altered to suit your littles one’s tastebuds really easily. I give William three of these along with some other finger foods such as sweet potato fries, or whatever vegetables we are having that day!

Ingredients

This makes 12 small burgers

  • 120g turkey breast (you could use chicken, I use turkey for variety and also because it contains more iron)
  • 1 large potato, cubes
  • Half a carrot, sliced
  • Third of a courgette, grated
  • A few basil leaves
  • A few mint leaves
  • Plain flour or polenta for coating the burgers
  • Rapeseed or olive oil for frying

Method

  • Peel and chop potato and carrot.
  • Cut turkey into chunks.
  • Add potato, carrots and turkey to a pan of water and boil
  • After 10 minutes or when turkey cooked through remove turkey, add to blender with 1 spoon of cooking water and blend (it will look odd at this stage)
  • Once carrots and potatoes are cooked, mash. You could, if your baby doesn’t like lumps, blend the turkey potato and carrot together instead. I don’t because Will enjoys more texture in his food now he is a little older.
  • Grate raw courgette and squeeze to remove some moisture.
  • Finely chop basil and mint
  • Add courgette and herbs to potato mixture and blended turkey, mix together.
  • Leave to cool slightly (so you don’t burn your hands!) and shape it into small patties about 1.5cm thick.
  • Put these in the fridge to cool (this makes it much easier to fry them).
  • Coat the patties in a little flour or polenta and shallow fry in rapeseed or olive oil. Make sure you are patient when frying them, wait for a proper crust to form before flipping!
  • Once fried, these can be cooled and frozen or stored in the fridge for 24 hours.

I have also made these using sweet potato, and they were equally delicious.

I’d love to hear how you get on with these!