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Beetroot, feta and thyme muffins

Beetroot is one of those vegetables I often think about using but never do. Perhaps it’s because growing up, beetroot only came from a can, precooked and sliced, its bright juice ready to stain as much clothing as possible on the way to your mouth. I was never a fan of its earthy flavour.

Well I can finally say I have cooked with it, although I took the easy option this time of buying it in a vacuum sealed pack already cooked (next time, next time). And I also managed to come out the other end stain-free!

Beetroot is a very good source of potassium and manganese, but while it’s very low in fat, it’s also high in natural sugars.

savoury beetroot, feta and thyme muffins

I paired the earthy flavour with feta and thyme for these savoury muffins. Feta and beetroot are a classic combination; goat’s cheese would also work well. I used a mixture of white and wholemeal flour, but you can certainly use just white flour if you prefer.

I was very happy to see my muffins still had a lovely pink hue on top when I took them from the oven (although you can’t really see that in my photos). But when I broke one apart, the inside was a normal muffin brown colour (can anyone enlighten me about this?).

BEETROOT, FETA AND THYME MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25-30 mins
Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

200g self-raising white flour
100g self-raising wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g feta, crumbled or diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
200g cooked beetroot (1 large beetroot), finely grated
2 eggs, lightly beaten
210ml milk
90ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Either lightly spray a 12-hole muffin tray with cooking spray or line with paper cases.

Mix the white and wholemeal flours, baking powder, feta and thyme in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl or jug, combine the grated beetroot, eggs, milk, oil and salt (if using). Add this to the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (mixing as little as possible keeps your muffins light in texture).

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin holes.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through when tested with a skewer.

Tip out onto a wire cooling rack.

Savoury beetroot, feta and thyme muffins

Variations:

  • use goat’s cheese instead of feta.
  • if you don’t have any fresh or dried thyme, substitute with chives or parsley.

Tip: to avoid getting beetroot juice all over your kitchen when grating it, put your grater into a good-sized bowl to catch the juice and wayward pieces as you grate.

 

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Herby courgette pasta salad with feta and egg

I don’t want to overly bombard you with my apple sauce experiments, so it’s back to good old trusty pasta today.

I love the Sainsbury’s Little One’s site when they do recipes three-ways: for babies, for toddlers and for adults. For example for their creamy spinach and leek pancake bake (must try this) the filling is pureed for a baby, a toddler eats the recipe as is,  and adults get a surprise of smoky ham inside. These recipes give me a renewed enthusiasm for cooking for Nicholas when my enthusiasm is lagging. They encourage me to experiment with my tried and tested recipes, working out more toddler-friendly versions of them. While I love making dishes everyone can eat, I really do love making meals just for Nicholas.

One of my ‘go to’ summer recipes is a cold pasta recipe I came across in The Times probably more than ten years ago. It’s an Ann and Franco Taruschio invention and I believe it’s in their 100 Great Pasta Dishes book (but don’t quote me on that). It’s a wonderfully fresh and filling dish, perfect to make the day before, perfect to take to work for lunch, and perfect to take on picnics or to have as a vegetarian option at a barbecue. I’ve made it a couple of times for my Italian in-laws and they love it (always a good sign!). I’ll write up that recipe tomorrow, but for now, here’s my toddler-friendly version of it.

I grated the courgette/zucchini to cut down the preperation time. However, next time I’ll dice it, as grated it sticks to itself and is difficult to separate, and Nicholas tends to pull large pieces of it from his mouth.

The original recipe uses penne and it really does need a short tube-shaped pasta. I used tubetti rigati which are like mini penne. You could also use macaroni or cut penne into shorter tubes after it’s cooked.

You can cook the egg and pasta in the same water, you just need to make a calculation based on the cooking time needed for the pasta you’re using. My tubetti rigati take 11 minutes to cook, so one minute after I put them into the boiling water I added the egg, cooking them together for 10 minutes before draining everything.

HERBY COURGETTE PASTA SALAD WITH FETA AND EGG

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 2 large toddler servings
Keeps for a day in the fridge

100g courgette / zucchini, finely grated
2 medium basil leaves, finely shredded
2 medium mint leaves, finely shredded
1 egg
50g tubetti rigati (or other small tubed pasta)
100g feta cheese
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of salt (optional)

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and gently lower the egg into it. Boil for 10 minutes. Plunge into cold water, peel and cut into 6 wedges. Cut each wedge in half.

Cook the pasta as directed on the packet. Drain and add a drizzle of olive oil to stop the pasta from sticking to itself. Put in a medium-sized bowl and cool in the fridge.

Squeeze the excess moisture from the grated courgette. In a small non-stick frying pan, cook the courgette for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Take off the heat and stir in the basil and mint.

Add the herby courgette to the pasta. Mix in the feta and egg. Serve cold.

Variations:

  • chop the courgette into small cubes rather than grate it
  • add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end