Grow your children - recipes

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Pasta with courgettes, leeks, lemon and cr�me fraiche

Cook Eat Love Grow by Louise Westerhout (Random House) is a delightful collection of wholesome, healthy meals for babies, children and the rest of the family.

There is an emphasis on organic produce and most of the recipes are wheat- and sugar- free with many dairy-, egg- and gluten-free options as well.

It offers new ideas and healthy combinations from simple, inexpensive ingredients to information on how to introduce solids and what foods to offer your child when he or she is ill. We selected three simple recipes from the book that the whole family will enjoy

Courgette and butternut quenelles with tomato salsa and tzatziki

Serves 4

These are crispy and full flavour. The chickpea flour boosts the protein content and everyone, regardless of age, can eat with their hands, dipping into the tzatziki and salsa with abandon.

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½ cucumber, peeled and grated with excess juice squeezed out

1 clove garlic, crushed

350ml plain yoghurt

4 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

4 spring onions, finely chopped

A small handful of fresh basil, chopped

Salt to taste

400g peeled and grated courgettes

400g peeled and grated butternut

A handful of fresh mint, chopped

About 100g of chickpea flour

Extra-virgin olive oil for frying

To make the tzatziki, combine the cucumber and garlic with the yoghurt, mixing thoroughly. For the salsa, mix together the tomatoes, spring onion, basil and salt.

To prepare the quenelles, place the courgettes, butternut and mint in a mixing bowl, then stir in the chickpea flour. Leave this to stand for 10 minutes to allow the mixture to bind. It should still be quite moist as too much flour will make the quenelles heavy.

Add more chickpea flour if necessary (or just fry one to test the mixture).

Heat a large, non-stick frying pan and pour in a thin layer of olive oil. Using two tablespoons, work a spoonful of the mixture, pressing it from spoon to spoon, to form an oval. If this is difficult, do it by hand. Drop the ovals in the pan, allowing them to brown and crisp on one side before turning them over. When each is complete, place on kitchen paper. Keep making and frying until you have used up all the mixture.

Serve the quenelles with the tzatziki and salsa.

Pasta with courgettes, leeks, lemon and crème fraiche

Serves 4

The delicate spring colours of this dish are delightful, while the combination of lemon zest and crème fraiche is the taste springboard for the courgettes and leeks.

zest and juice of one organic lemon

A small handful of fresh oregano, chopped

1 cup of crème fraiche

Your choice of pasta, enough for four people

Extra-virgin olive oil for searing vegetables

4 good size leeks, thinly sliced into discs

500g courgettes, thinly sliced into discs

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Black pepper (optional)

Stir the lemon zest and oregano into the crème fraiche, then leave to stand while the flavours are absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package instructions.

In a wide, flat, non-stick pan, heat a little olive oil and throw in the leeks and courgettes. Let them sear as they cook and when they show a little blackening, turn down the heat and add the garlic and a few tablespoons of water. Leave all to soften, 3 or 4 minutes at most.

A few minutes before the pasta is ready, mix the crème fraiche into the vegetables until the flavours have combined and the crème fraiche is heated. Drain the pasta, then stir the courgette and leek sauce into the pasta.

Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and grind black pepper on top, if desired.

Lasagne

Serves 6

A little unconventional, but the butternut adds a lovely sweetness to the dish.

olive oil

1 large butternut, peeled and sliced into 1cm rounds and steamed until tender

Basic lentil sauce (see recipe below)

1 regular box lasagne sheets, cooked, drained and rinsed (but if you use the instant variety, follow the instructions on the box and add more liquid, stock or milk)

2 cups full-cream cottage cheese or crème fraiche

300ml grated gouda or mozzarella cheese

To make the basic lentil sauce

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

125g mushrooms, sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil for frying

3 large carrots

1 410g can chopped tomatoes

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

3tbs chopped parsley

2 tsp oregano

1 large bay leaf

1½ cups brown lentils, rinsed

2 cups filtered water

Gently fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms in a little olive oil in a wide-bottomed pan until brown. Add the carrots, tomatoes, herbs, lentils and water. Simmer for 40 minutes until thick.

To make the lasagne

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Grease a large ovenproof dish with olive oil and arrange a layer of butternut rounds on the bottom. Spread a layer of lentil sauce over the butternut. Cover the sauce with lasagna sheets and dot with cottage cheese or crème fraiche, and sprinkle over grated cheese. Repeat the layering process, ending with a layer of lentil sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 40 minutes until bubbling and hot. Serve with green salad or steamed greens. - The Mercury

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