If your child is averse to munching on veggies at the best of times, and you are finding it increasingly difficult to get them into his or her little tummy, you aren’t alone.
I played around with a family favourite – lasagne – to find a lip-smacking way to sneak in the veg and cram in the nutrients…all unbeknownst to my son!
If your family or child doesn’t eat red meat for any reason, then this recipe can also be made with chicken mince, tuna or just veg.
Although I used egg lasagne noodles in this recipe, you can really use any pasta of your choice (penne, fusilli or farfalle could all work). A little trick I discovered is that the noodles don’t need to be pre-cooked, as long as they are coated in enough sauce!
Get creative with adding in different veggies, and process them as chunky or finely as your child will tolerate.
If your child is lactose-intolerant, go for lactose-free cheese options and substitute lactose-free/almond milk for the cow’s milk.
This recipe can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and then popped into the oven before serving. It also freezes extremely well: all you need to do is thaw it ahead of time and then bake it as below (you could also make extra mince and veg mixture, and then freeze that in individual portions to use at a later date).
This recipe makes around 12 portions.
What you’ll need:
- 1kg free-range beef mince
- 1.5 boxes egg lasagne sheets (roughly 350g)
- 3 x tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin tomato purèe
- 1/4 cup water
- 3-4 large leeks, finely chopped
- 3-4 large carrots
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 large peppers (any colour)
- 2 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs dried oregano
- 1 tsp crushed/minced garlic
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
For the cheese sauce:
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 cups grated white hard cheese (mozzarella, gouda)
- 4 heaped Tbs wholewheat flour
- 1.5 litres milk
- 3-4 cracks black pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Heat the oven to 180°C
- Combine the carrots, broccoli florets and peppers in a food processor and pulse until fine (about the same size as mince meat)
- In a large pan heat 1 Tbs olive oil and garlic on a medium-high heat
- Add the leeks and stir until softened
- Add the mince, stirring to get rid of any large pieces
- Once browned, add the vegetables and mix together, cooking for a further 5 minutes
- Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purèe, water, oregano and parsley
- Turn up the heat and bring to a boil
- Lower the heat to a medium heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes
- In the meantime you can get started on the sauce
To make the cheese sauce:
- Heat 1 Tbs olive oil on a medium heat
- Add the flour, using a whisk to mix it together with the oil in the pan
- Slowly add the milk, whisking the mixture constantly
- Add the black pepper and the nutmeg
- Allow the mixture to thicken (not allowing the mixture to catch in the pan, rather turn down to a low heat if needed)
- When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (not too runny and not too thick) you can remove the pan from the heat completely and add in the cheese, whisking it into the mixture until smooth
- Your sauce is now ready!
To assemble the lasagne:
- Using a large oven-proof dish, start with 1/3 meat & veggie mixture, followed by a layer of noodles and then 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Repeat 3 times.
- Sprinkle parmesan over the top.
- Bake for 50 minutes, until browned and bubbling (if the top begins burning, turn the heat down)