“My two boys aged seven and nine refuse to eat vegetables. They act as if I’m poisoning them when I serve up a carrot or a parsnip and mealtimes have become a battle. I’m tired of throwing away food and I’m worried they’re not getting a well-balanced diet. Please help before they get scurvy or I’m driven mad!” Julia Walshe, Chesham.
Winning over veg-phobic children is a battle we think is best fought using one of two well-known military tactics – camouflage or engagement!
Culinary camouflage involves distracting the enemy, we mean child, with flavours they love – and disguising or hiding the ingredients they dislike.
Most children, even the veg averse, like fried potatoes and chips so for our camouflage recipe we’ve created a crisp, root vegetable rosti served with sausages.
In a rosti, grated vegetables are unrecognizable and frying creates a sweet taste and crisp texture that kids love.
Root vegetable rosti with sausages
Serves 4; 30 minutes preparation plus an additional 10 minutes cooking time
300g potatoes, peeled and halved
2 medium carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
2 medium parsnips, peeled and halved lengthways
250g swede or sweet potato, peeled and cut into pieces the same size as the potato
2 level tablespoons of plain flour
1 lightly beaten egg
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp grape seed or other flavourless oil
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan) gas 5 with a large oven tray inside.
Place the sausages on another baking tray, prick with a fork and place in the oven to cook.
Now make the rostis. Put the potatoes, carrot, parsnips and swede or sweet potato in a pan and cover with water and a generous pinch of salt.
Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until just beginning to cook and soften.
While the vegetables are cooking, turn the sausages so that they brown more evenly.
Drain the vegetables and run under cold water so that they are cool enough to handle. Coarsely grate the par-cooked vegetables into a large bowl and then mix together with the flour, egg and seasoning.
Shape the mixture into patties the size of two digestive biscuits stacked on top of one another.
Lightly oil a frying pan and place over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add the rosti, a few at a time, and fry until crisp and golden on both sides.
Drain the cooked rosti of excess oil by placing on a kitchen towel.
Once all the rostis are fried, place on the preheated oven tray and cook for about 6 – 10 minutes until crisp on the outside and cooked all the way through.
Serve with the sausages.
Feeling brave? Try engaging your fussy eaters to get those veggies down them. Engagement is a higher-risk strategy but doesn’t involve deception and may result in kids actually changing their minds about veg being inedible – try this Chicken Fajitas recipe.
If you have a kitchen nightmare you want our kitchen experts to help with email us at [email protected] with Kitchen Makeover in the subject line.