If you follow me on social media (and if not why not? No excuse now, buttons are on the right or underneath on mobile) you’ll know how often I meal plan. I mean, I post a picture of it each time I do, so I know it’s not that frequent – I guess that’s about every few months. Right now, I have some potatoes in the oven baking, and I’m trying to get some writing done before yer man gets in with the two Tasmanian Devils. We decided on baked potatoes about half an hour ago, while he was getting up from his desk to leave work and I was on the bus home. Plan-schman. That makes me an idiosyncratic parenting/food blogger really; to neither meal plan, nor batch cook. We’ll soldier on…
Here’s a selection of family dinners we’ve eaten recently, old favourites and new attempts. The one thing they have in common is I’ll make them again. We all ate them happily, including the fussier four year old. (Proof is below!)
1. Green pancakes with lime butter
We have a well documented love of pancakes and they grace many a weekend breakfast table. This time round they’re savoury. Plenty is a cook book from Yottam Ottolenghi that I dip into a lot, it’s full of reasonably simple recipes that satisfy both the family food and you’d-serve-to-visitors categories. The recipe is on the Guardian website. I left the chillis out of the pancakes, but did leave the chilli flakes in the butter. The absolute bonus was we’d lots of lime butter left over and used it smothered on hasselback potatoes the following week.
2. Courgette, rice and cheese gratin
If all else fails and you’re staring at your miserable cupboard contents; Smitten Kitchen. For dinners or baking treats it is a fantastic repository of recipes. What I love is that there’s often suggested alternative methods or ingredients. Perfect for me. What’s important to note about this particular recipe is that there’s an updated, much quicker version down the original link page. I also adapted this recipe – I had 2 huge courgettes but that was still less than the recipe called for, so I upped the rice (and liquid levels) to make a more substantially carby version. Also; slightly less likely to be refused than a mostly-courgette-based dinner. The gamble paid off.
3. Black Bean Quesadilla
Or kidney bean, or cannellini bean…I’m not fussy. Much like pancakes, I’ve been making quesadillas in various guises for years for the kids. They’re a very fast midweek dinner, and often I’m throwing them together while shouting at the six year old to get into his Cub Scouts gear. I had an old Domini Kemp recipe I’d ripped out of the newspaper but again, I found another recipe from Plenty with a really flavoursome bean paste that I prefer now. To save time I just do the quesadilla part; I don’t make the salsa, but I add in some mashed up avocado instead. I cook them for about 2 minutes each side on a dry griddle pan. You can brush the tortilla with a little olive oil on a pastry brush if you’d prefer them that way.
4. Jackfruit Kofta Dumplings
This was a big gamble for me. I was using a new ingredient; one I’d seen hailed as a natural vegan meat alternative for ages now. Want pulled pork? Use jackfruit apparently. I didn’t particularly want pulled pork though – I’ve never had it, so I don’t miss it!
The texture of the jackfruit freaked me out, it’s so meaty looking straight out of the can! I had chosen a Kofta dumpling recipe. A really nice Indian takeaway I’ve been known to frequent does a veggie Kofta curry, and when I realised I could use jackfruit to try and replicate that I had to give it a go.
Now, I don’t own a pressure cooker and nor could I find a good conversion for “3-4 whistles“, but I pride myself on not being defeated by such things, and just steamed the potatoes until they were mashable. I heated the jackfruit chunks slightly to soften them, but they were pretty much ready to go rinsed from the can.
Husband had to assure me the prepped dumpling mixture tasted really good, I couldn’t bring myself to try it I was afraid it was really meat and all a big trick…
Everyone fought over getting a fair share of seconds of the dumplings. That’s how good this was. I might even try pulled pork next.
An oldie but a goodie. Dahl is one of those things I make on the reg. I have one on here already but it’s a little convoluted compared to this one. I make it with red lentils, and add in some frozen spinach for an extra buzz of greens. It takes 30 mins start to finish and most of that is just the dahl simmering, but my go to is now the one from my Slim With Tina book. I can rustle it up in about half an hour though it tastes even better the next day. So I’ve been known to make this one the night before. (I’m sorry I can’t share the recipe here but the book is available online in a paperback or kindle edition.)
I served this last time with some natural yogurt with fresh mint chopped through and some naan.
There you are. Five family dinners; bonafide hits all. And veggie to boot. If you see me mention any grub across any of my social feeds, do ask and I’ll be pleased to share how I made it whether it came from my head or from a more reliable source than that.