This is basically a quick recipe for a shepherd’s pie, just without the mashed potatoes, as my kids don’t really like those. We’re enjoying our Easter break in the north of England (hence the inspiration for today’s post) and holidays are generally the time when I try to keep the time spent in the kitchen to a bare minimum.
However, even on holiday trips I want my kids to follow the “five servings of fruit/vegetables a day” and since it’s no mean feat to fit these in our complete lack of routine, I like to sneak some veggies into the main dish, like this one.
I am a vegetarian. Have been since the age of 15. Not surprisingly, I’ve never properly learned how to cook meat.
And then I became a mom and whatever diet I may have had chosen for myself, I felt I didn’t have the moral right to impose on my children. Because I do not believe meat as such, from reliable sources of course (or “scandal-free” as a friend characterized it), is bad for you. I simply do not like it personally.
So, when the kids came along I had to restyle my cooking practice. I started with simple roasts and would have been quite happy making them until the day I died, if it hadn’t been for the children who craved variety.
Kids love minced meat
There are numerous recipes for minced meat with pasta, but I prefer not to mix carbs with proteins. Which is why this recipe is basically a half-way shepherd’s pie, just without the mashed potatoes. Actually, my children don’t really like mashed potatoes, the fluffiness somehow puts them off, so it’s a win-win for us.
Come to think of it, they don’t like thermally processed veggies, either. Anything from broccoli to bell peppers is fine, as long as it is raw and not chopped into a salad, or incorporated into a meal in any other way which changes structure or taste. They are not difficult to please, as long as I follow these basic rules, but their preferences make my cooking quite a challenge sometimes!
That is why there are only onions, carrots and courgettes in this recipe. And both carrots and courgettes are ground, so as not to resemble chopped veggies. But, if your children are more palate-adventurous, try experimenting with their favourite vegetables until you come up with the right combo, or keep playing to give the dish a special twist each time.
To make enough for 6 little people (or two kids and two parents) you will need:
300g double-minced beef
3 onions finely chopped
3 medium-sized carrots, chopped or ground
3 courgettes, chopped or ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
dry basil and thyme (or whatever herbs your kids prefer)
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
Place a frying pan on high heat, stir fry the onions, add carrots, and then courgettes. When the vegetables start releasing juices, add minced meat and stir. Then add the dry herbs, stir again, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the tomato paste, stir again and cook for another 5 minutes.
All in all, it shouldn’t take you more than half an hour to prepare this dish. Serve with a salad and maybe some potatoes, too, mashed or otherwise.