Monday, 24 May 2010

Eating Alfresco: 4 Fun Family Recipes

Summer brings picnics and more outdoor eating. I decided to share a few recipes I like for some great food that's easy to make and convenient to transport for journeys, picnics or whatever. As I'm a vegetarian, so are these recipes but you can certainly play around with them and include some meat if you'd like. I've chosen things that are suitable for young toddlers to eat but that are also grown-up enough for adults to enjoy!

I've chosen 3 savoury recipes and 1 sweet, all of which are quick to throw together. You could make them the night before, a week before and freeze them, or in the morning before heading out - whatever fits in best with your schedule. They are fairly healthy - nutritious and delicious as my niece likes to say! At the end of the post, I've also listed a few other food ideas.

Courgette Mozzerella Muffins I omited the ham, salt, sugar and chilli flakes in mine and they still tasted really good. You could also do variations on the recipe, substituting the courgette and mozzerella for something like olives and feta cheese or carrot, corriander and cheddar cheese...whatever you fancy! Savoury muffins are a good way to make vegetables a bit more fun and accessible for fussy eaters. You could make mini muffins for a party or picnic.

Chickpea Patties. The recipe for these came from Nigel Slater's book Tender: Volume I, A cook and his vegetable patch (my current favourite cookery book). Super-easy to make and delicious served with a sauce of yoghurt, grated cucumber and mint. Makes 6-8 small patties.

Photo credit
In a food processor or with a hand whisk, combine the following:
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp hot paprika
  • 1 egg
  • small bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • small bunch mint, roughly chopped
Blitz until smooth but not too smooth, keep it a little lumpy. Leave for 5-10 mins to firm up then fry small, flattened spoonfuls in a non-stick frying pan with a bit of olive oil until golden on each side (3-4 mins). Serve warm or cold with the yoghurt sauce/tzatsiki.

Bean and herb sausages. This recipe comes from Vegetarian Pregnancy and Baby Book. The sausages can be eaten warm or cold. Makes 18-20 sausages about 10cm/4 inches long.
  • 420g can haricot/cannellini beans, drained, rinsed & mashed with a fork
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 45g grated cheddar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh herbs of your choice (eg, thyme, parsley)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • dried breadcrumbs
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form into sausage shapes and roll each one in the dried breadcrumbs. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 mins. Fry the sausages in a little vegetable oil, turning frequently to brown them evenly (8-10 mins cooking time). Drain on kitchen paper.

Fruity Flapjacks: these are healthy and quite filling. The recipe is from a Tesco magazine but I can't find it online....

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Simply combine all the following ingredients, press into a lightly oiled 18 x 28 cm baking tin and bake at 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4 for 20-25 mins or until golden. Cut into bars while still warm. Makes 12.
  • 350g oats
  • 85g plain flour
  • 150g dried fruit mixture (eg. raisins, apricots, figs, dates, apple, prunes)
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 egg
  • 175ml apple juice (I substituted this for water to make mine less sweet)

Some other ideas:

Dips: humous, guacamole..... make your own quick healthy bean dip by simply whizzing up your choice of canned beans with a couple of spoonfuls of plain natural yoghurt and some seasoning/herbs to taste. Dip in vegetables or breadsticks.

Mini quiches. Lots of great recipes here. If you don't have Individual Quiche/Tart Pans, use a fairy cake/cupcake tin instead to make bite size ones instead.

Arancini: a bit fiddly to make but these rice balls are so delicious! Try this recipe.

Fruit. There are so many lovely summer fruits that come into season and are delicious to sit and munch on!

I hope this gives you some fresh ideas for picnic fare or even just for making food for your young children that's easy to transport and a bit more interesting that just a sandwich.

What kind of food do you like to take outside that's also enjoyed by your children?

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