Trick your kids into eating lots of hidden vegetables with this quick, easy, tasty recipe. Adapted from a chilli con carne base, this is also great for adults. Use a light touch with the corn chips & cheese for maximum benefit & subsitute the sour cream for plain Greek yoghurt if you're watching the calories. Delicious layered on top of dressed boiled potatoes, garlic mash or steamed rice.
Ingredients 500g good quality mince or diced beef
2 large brown onions
2 large cloves of garlic
Approx 100g fresh celery - more or less to taste. Stalks & leaves are both delicious.
1 small red chilli
1 tsp hot or sweet paprika
1 Tbsp olive oil
400g can kidney beans
3 or 4 large, ripe tomatoes
Small handful of fresh oregano
Small handful of fresh thyme/ lemon thyme leaves
3 Tbsp vegetable or tomato paste (I prefer home-made but supermarket brands will also work fine)
1 large capsicum
Salt & pepper to taste
To Serve - all optional
Boiled/ mashed potato or steamed rice
Approx 200g fresh English spinach leaves or rocket
Sour cream or plain Greek yoghurt
Freshly chopped chives
Finely grated cheese
If serving with rice or mashed potatoes, get these on first to cook while you prepare the rest.
Wash the celery, tomatoes, carrots & capsicum.
Dunk the raw spinach/ rocket in cold water with a dash of white vinegar. Swish through, leave to soak for a few minutes, then put through a salad spinner to remove all water, or gently pat & drain on clean paper towels until needed.
Finely chop the onion, garlic & chilli - including the chilli seeds. Set aside & wash your hands after handling the chilli to avoid getting it in your eyes.
Dice the tomato into approx 1cm cubes - set aside.
Chop the herbs finely, discarding the thyme stalks. Pile the chopped herbs on top of the diced tomatoes.
Top & tail the celery & carrots. Scrape lightly with the back of a knife to remove stray fibres - to retain flavour, texture & nutrients, I never peel carrots. Finely chop the celery & dice the carrots into even pieces, approx 1cm cubes. Set aside.
Core & de-seed the capsicum. Remove inner membrane & slice into bite-size pieces, approx 1-2 cm. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, wide non-stick pan. When it starts to bubble, lightly saute the onion, celery, garlic, paprika, celery salt & chilli.
When the onion, celery & garlic starts to soften (approx 30 seconds to a minute) add the beef & integrate with the onion mix. If using mince, keep breaking it down into smaller chunks as it starts to brown.
Keep stirring through, ensuring that the meat browns evenly. Once the mince is broken down or the beef is 3/4 cooked through, add the tomato/ vegetable paste, stir through, then add the drained kidney beans. Stir to combine.
Reduce heat slightly to a high simmer. Cook through for another few minutes, stirring regularly, then add the diced tomatoes, thyme, oregano & salt/ pepper to taste. Stir through to combine.
After a couple of minutes, add the chopped carrots & capsicum. Stir through & taste. Adjust seasoning if required.
Potatoes/ rice should now be ready. Drain & dress the potatoes with a knob of butter & salt & pepper, or mash them. Cover with a tight-fitting lid & set aside.
Stir through the meat once more & turn off the heat.
Serve the rice or potatoes into bowls. Arrange the raw spinach or rocket on top, then ladle on the meat, ensuring a good mix of meat, veg & sauce. The heat from the rice/ potatoes & meat will wilt the spinach without overcooking it.
Lightly sprinkle with finely grated cheese, then garnish with 5 or 6 corn chips, a small dollop of sour cream or yoghurt to tase & chives (all optional).
Serve & eat immediately.
(Tip - for kids who like or tolerate veg, keep the veg size chunkier but for kids who are more resistant, you can chop the veg smaller &/ or add the carrots/ capsicum earlier to disguise.)