In honour of National Vegetarian Week #NVW15 (this week) and Food Revolution Day, which was on Friday, I am getting my two little chefs (aged 3 and 5) to cook a vegetarian dish for dinner for us every day this week. I've picked recipes that look fun for cooking with toddlers and preschoolers from the following collections of child-friendly recipes:
- The Tesco Eat Happy Project
- Let's Get Cooking (Children's Food Trust)
- BBC Cook of the Year 2015, Jo Ingleby's Healthy Recipes for Kids
I like to cook vegetarian dishes with young children. I never cook with raw meat with under 5s because of the risk of an accidental lick and I want them to feel free to touch and taste as they cook. Vegetarian dishes also invariably come with vegetables! And cooking with vegetables is a great way for young children to explore them and maybe even try some new ones.
If you have a veggie dish you like to cook with children, please share it in the comments or on our Cook with Toddler Facebook page or tweet @cookwithtots or Instagram. Click here if want to know more about the National Vegetarian Week (#NVW15) with link to many more vegetarian recipes.
To kick us off, here is Monday's effort.
The first of two recipes from the Tesco Eat Happy Project. I hope you can see from the video how much the girls loved doing this one. I didn't even put them up to the comment at 2:22. The age guidance on the recipe says 9 to 10 year olds, but don't let this put you off. If you use child-safe knives (or a table knife) and child-safe scissors, and aren't too fussy about having thinly sliced vegetables, a child as young as 2 could give this a try. The girls were using child-safe knives from Curious Chef (see products for cooking with children). For very young children who find cutting difficult, get them to tear with hands instead.
The second of two recipes from the Tesco Eat Happy Project. These were great fun to make. They especially loved painting oil everywhere. My tips for doing them with young chefs is to cook the leeks yourself earlier in the day and don't get hung up about ending up with perfect triangular parcels. For a reason that only a 3 year old would understand, these had to be made in a clown's outfit...
A fun, easy recipe by Jo Ingleby; BBC Cook of the Year 2015 and teacher at Demuths vegetarian cookery school. Jo won Cook of the Year for bringing vegetables and cooking to 2 to 4 year olds at an inner-city nursery school. Click here for a must-read article and interview about her inspirational work. For today's recipe, eldest little chef was ably assisted by Theodore, the school bear...
The first thing you need to make for quiches and tarts is shortcrust pastry. This is a fun and easy pastry to make with toddlers. If you have a very young toddler or short on time, you can buy it ready-made or make it yourself. But I definitely recommend getting them to do it. As I hope you can see from this video of my 3 year old, pastry-making is lots of fun. As toddler concentration spans aren't long, I usually make the pastry on one day and then do the quiche or tart the next. The pastry will keep wrapped or covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Or you can even freeze it.
Now onto the quiches. This recipe is from the Children's Food Trust's Let's Get Cooking project. They have lots of recipes and cooking resources, including for cooking with children. As you'll see, my little chefs enjoyed making these. The only adaption I made for doing with very young chefs was to slice and cook the onions myself earlier in the day. With some salad, these made a very delicious dinner for us all. I am seriously enjoying my week off cooking this week!
Final day of our vegetarian week. Big Little Chef had a lot of fun making 3 Dips; another recipe by Jo Ingleby, BBC Cook of the Year 2015 (see Wednesday). Her favourite to make and eat was the Cucumber & Yoghurt one. This is also the best for doing with young toddlers. My favourite to eat was the Fruit Salsa. The Bean Dip also went down very well. Although with a young toddler, I'd probably whizz the chick peas in a food processor beforehand, because the mashing was hard work! Take a look at how she got on:
If you're going to have dips, you've got to have something to dip into them. One of our favourite things to make in our house are Pitta Chips. If they're too young to use child-safe scissors, just get them to tear up the pittas. These are such a quick and easy thing to do and perfect to have with soup, dips or on their own as a snack. I'll let Big Little Chef show you what to do:
So that's it, 5 veggie dishes in 5 days. They did also make some yummy Bean Burgers by Jo Ingleby, but they'd run out of steam by then and the video isn't worth posting. The recipe is great though so do check it out. I can't complain; they did an awesome job giving me the whole week off cooking; one proud Mum.