While the weather is getting colder and my summer tan is fading, I’m consoling myself with cooking shows. And thankfully I can watch two of my favourites at the moment (The Great British Bake Off and Australian Masterchef).
I’ve struggled to get back into the kitchen after our late summer holidays, and have had little inspiration to be creative, but watching Australian Masterchef’s kids’ week has ignited some enthusiasm. One challenge had the contestants inventing a child-friendly dish using either liver, brussel sprouts or anchovies which were tasted and judged by three children.
Thinking about what I would do if I was a contestant (don’t we all do that watching these kinds of shows?), I thought about dishes that usually go down well with kids and my three ideas were pizza, pasta and things on sticks, all of which then featured in the better dishes made.
The most creative for me was a meat and liver ‘lollipop’ which was dipped into satay sauce and then some crushed peanuts by the kids. They loved it and it was such a brilliant idea that it got me thinking about getting vegetables into something similar.
When I was clearing up after dinner and wondering what I could do the following day with some leftover vegetables, inspiration hit me! It’s one of those ideas which makes you wonder why you never thought of it before. Leftover veggie pops were born!
All of the other fussy-eater-parents out there, you have my complete and utmost sympathy. It’s a tough gig already without this extra stress. Thankfully, and very luckily for us, Nicholas’ fussiness for eating (especially vegetables) was a phase which we seem now to be through. Interestingly, I have made similar fried vegetable balls and patties in the past which weren’t eaten, but… I didn’t serve them on sticks. Why didn’t I think of putting vegetables on sticks before now?!?
Nicholas first encountered these in his lunchbox. When I picked him up and asked him how his lunch was, he very excitedly told me he’d eaten “cheesy lollipops! cheesy mummy!” and his favourite dinosaur-shaped sandwiches merely got a mention. Success!
You can use pretty much any leftover vegetables you want. So long as they’re already cooked, all you need to do is mash them and mix them with a few other ingredients you probably already have. If your munchkins tend to pick out the vegetables they don’t like (probably the green ones!), use a potato ricer or quickly blend the veggies in a food processor to make the mixture smooth and even in colour.
These are not the healthiest way to serve vegetables as they’re fried, but you could also bake them in the oven (turn them regularly so they brown evenly). Pop any remaining balls in the freezer for another fun vegetable side dish another day.
LEFTOVER VEGGIE POPS
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes about 25 pops
2 cups of leftover cooked vegetables (I used sweet potato, leeks and peas), mashed or blended
1/2 – 3/4 cup grated cheddar (depending on how cheesy you want them)
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper (optional)
1 egg, beaten
Clean lollipop sticks or ice lolly sticks
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the mashed or blended vegetables, cheddar, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper if using.
Add about half of the beaten egg and mix. Add more egg a little at a time until you have a mixture just wet enough that it sticks together to shape into balls (if the mixture becames too wet, add some more breadcrumbs a little at a time).
Shape the mixture into small balls (about the size of a walnut shell).
In a frying pan, pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan to the depth of about 1cm. Heat over a medium-high heat then fry the vegetable balls turning them over regularly so they evenly brown.
Drain the cooked vegetable balls on some kitchen towel and when cool enough to touch, place each on a lollipop stick.
Add to the fun by serving the pops with a dipping sauce such as houmous, tomato sauce or a satay sauce.
Letting your creative juices run wild, what other food or dishes do you think you little ones would love more if they were served on a stick?