Mexican Bean Dinner

Whether you’re a carnivore or not, there are plenty of health and environmental reasons why we should all be eating less meat.

I am trying to bring my children up (and persuade my husband!) to understand that a ‘good’ meal doesn’t need to rely on meat.

This week’s ‘Feeding the Family’ is a simple, tasty, colourful and budget friendly vegetarian meal with 3 parts. Enjoy!

Serves: These 3 recipes together make enough to serve 2-4 adults and 2-4 children – so you’ll probably have leftovers!

Takes: No more than 30 minutes if you make everything at once. Personally, I often make the beans in advance and reheat portions as needed. I prep all the veg and cook enough egg and cheesy tortillas for the kids supper, and then use the remaining ingredients to make up a fresh batch for the adults later.

Notes: Each element can be prepared on its own (the beans are a tasty homemade baked-bean alternative to serve on toast, or with a cooked breakfast, and the cheesy quesadillas are a great quick lunch or snack), but together this makes a well-balanced family meal.

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Mexican Style Beans

Ingredients:

1 red onion

1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or any other cooking oil you like)

2 x 400g tin cooked Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon black treacle

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)

250ml water

½ teaspoon salt (optional – leave out and add to adult portions only if you prefer)

Method:

  • Finely chop the onion, and fry gently with the oil until the onion is soft (this should take about 5 minutes on a very low heat, stirring occasionally)
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  • Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
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  • Simmer gently with a lid on for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking.
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  • Taste and check whether you think it needs more salt or sugar – both can be added at the end to suit your taste buds!
  • Serve warm, or reheat later on the stove or in the microwave.
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Storage: this dish will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days, and it also freezes well.

Note: These beans can be mashed or pureed for spoon-feeding. Although it is recommended to avoid sugar in baby foods, the quantity of sugar in this is minimal compared to what you’d find in shop-bought baked beans! What I usually do though is slightly drain off the sauce before blending with milk or water, so that there’s very little sugar in the baby’s portion!

Easy Egg Frittata

I tend to make this in the microwave for the kids, and then the ‘adult’ portions in a frying pan with some seasoning and butter for more flavour!

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

1 small red pepper

60 grams sweetcorn kernels (tinned or frozen and defrosted)

60 grams peas (frozen and defrosted)

optional: butter/oil, salt and pepper

Method:

  • Start by finely dicing the pepper so that the pieces are a similar size to the peas and sweetcorn.
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  • To make a microwave frittata simply break 2 eggs into a microwave-proof plastic bowl, and scramble briefly with a fork, adding in 1/3 of the chopped vegetables as you mix it.
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  • Pop the bowl into the microwave and cook on full power until the egg has puffed up and is all set (it takes 2.5 minutes in my microwave, but check after 2 minutes).
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  • The egg should turn out of the bowl easily and can then be cut into slices or cubes.
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  • To cook in a frying pan, heat some butter or oil and cook individual beaten eggs, or the whole lot together like a big omelette, along with the vegetables (and a pinch of salt and pepper if you like).
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Storage: This is best eaten immediately (it doesn’t reheat well), though it is just as tasty cold the next day and makes a great packed lunch option.

Note: I find that slices of this makes great finger food for little people, and is a brilliant early weaning food (after 6 months, and once you’ve established they’re not allergic to eggs)

Cheesy Tortillas

Known as ‘quesadillas’ in Mexico – these cheese-filled tortillas are heated in a dry frying pan and can be pimped with all kinds of tasty additions!

Ingredients:

8 plain tortilla wraps

200 grams grated cheese (I use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

Optional filling/garnish:

Fresh coriander or parsley leaves

Fresh lime wedges

Ripe avocado slices

Fresh tomatoes, sliced

Method:

  • Grate your cheese and leave it aside.
  • Wash and slice your tomatoes, avocados, limes and herbs.
  • Get a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat on the stove (no need to use any oil or butter).
  • Place one tortilla wrap in the frying pan – sprinkle a quarter on the grated cheese and (if you like) some tomatoes, avocados and herbs.
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  • Cover the tortilla with a second tortilla, and cook over a low/medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is golden brown (this is quicker with a lid).
  • Flip the tortilla over, and cook on the other side.
  • Cut each cheesy tortilla into wedges like a pizza.

Storage: You can keep these warm in the oven while you cook the rest, or make them ahead and reheat in the oven or microwave before serving. These will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Note: Treat these slices of cheesy tortilla like pizza – they’re a great snack on their own, or alongside the beans and egg as a complete meal. I find they’re less ‘challenging’ for kids if you make them just with cheese and keep the tomatoes and avocados on the side.

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