Simple shepherd’s pie with secret veg

This is a firm family favourite and easily adapted for little people. I start out cooking the mince and veg together and then separate out the baby portion so I can add more salty seasonings to the adult version. It is not necessarily a traditional recipe, but contains lots of lovely healthy veg. Age: 6 months plus if pureed Texture: easy for you to adapt depending on how much (if at all) you puree it Ease of hold: tough, will need cutlery or a high tolerance for mess! Serving: spoon feed or allow little fingers to pick up clumps Extras: a variety of veg can be hidden in this dish Overall: takes a bit of time to make, but will serve the family with plenty of baby portions left for the freezer Ingredients

  • 500g mince (lamb is traditional, or use beef for what is technically a cottage pie)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 big handfuls of spinach, washed
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Tomato purée
  • Herbs (I used rosemary and thyme)
  • Stock (low salt for baby)
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Gravy granules
  • Cornflour
  • Frozen peas
  • Butter/margarine

1. In a large pan, fry the mince until it is browned and has released its fat. 2. Add the chopped onions and carrots. Cook, stirring, for around 10 minutes until the vegetables soften.image 3. Add the spinach. Stir and cook over a high heat as the spinach wilts (it will virtually disappear eventually; hidden veg!)   image 4. Cook the mince and veg mix for a further 10 minutes. 5. While this is cooking, prepare your potatoes and put them in a pan of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approx 20 mins, until soft. image 6. Now, get another pan and remove 3 large serving spoonfuls of the mince and veg mixture into it. This will be your baby version. 7. Add a big squeeze of tomato purée to each pan, according to taste, along with your herbs. image 8. To the adult pan, add a stock cube (I used a lamb cube), a dash of soy sauce and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, to taste. Cover with boiling water. 9. To the baby pan, add a low salt baby-friendly stock cube. Cover with boiling water. image 10. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. After this point you may wish to thicken your adult portion with gravy granules and your baby portion with a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with cold water. 11. Add frozen peas to both pans. Stir well and continue to simmer for at least 5 mins. image 12. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and mash with butter or your preferred non dairy alternative. Remember, don’t add salt – adults will have to add their own at the table. image You can now assemble the shepherd’s pies. Put the mince mixture at the bottom of a shallow dish and top with the mashed potato. Bake in an oven at around 180 degrees for 30 minutes, or until brown and crisped on top. You can either use big dishes to serve more than one, or individual ramekins. image Variations – you could add all sorts of chopped veg to the mince mixture. You could add different root veg to the topping; parsnip works really well here, or types of squash, or even carrot. Baby friendly – as A still has no teeth and struggles with mince, I put hers in the blender. You can add liquid if necessary and purée as smooth as you require. If your baby is older and can cope with lumps and mince, leave unblended. image This produced 2 large adult portions, plus enough mince mixture for 2 more adult portions – it freezes really well and just needs a potato topping another day. It also made at least 7 big baby portions. One for today and six to freeze! When you use the frozen portions, make sure to heat thoroughly until piping hot and bubbling throughout. Serve with steamed green veg on the side. image

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