Monday, 27 February 2012

Courgette polpette

My sisters and I grew up on a diet of fish fingers, beans, sausages, spaghetti bolognese, toast, scrambled egg, chips and boil in the bag cod with rice. My mother occasionally made a concession to our general education, by giving us Alphabites, with which we would construct rude words on our plates. We never had to eat vegetables or salad or anything we didn't want to, although it was always available.

Eventually we started eating that stuff of our own accord ,when we reached an age when we thought eating vegetables might make us thin and get rid of our spots. (Misguided of course. In order to be thin it doesn't matter what you eat, as long as you eat almost none of it, and in order to get rid of your spots you need some sort of pharmaceutical assistance.)

So I do not labour under a thing where I think Kitty ought to be eating a lot of fruit and vegetables. Do you even really NEED fruit and vegetables up until the age of about 12? I thought all babies and toddlers and small children need is carbohydrate and a bit of protein. That's all they want anyway. That and the food group known as CAKE.

Anyway it's a good thing I am very relaxed about all this, because Kitty doesn't want to eat any of that vegetable shit, thanks very much. She used to make a good fist of eating broccoli but now doesn't care for it much. From 8 months old onwards she has survived on about seven different kinds of spoonable stew that we make and freeze, mostly bean and animal fat-based.

And she has never, ever been interested in fruit. I must have placed a hundred different pieces of banana, apple, grape and clementine segment on her tray table only for her to discard them with various different disgusted faces. She did once put a piece of banana in her mouth, while mesmerised by one of her cousins - but I think she thought it was cheese.

Now she has reached a stage where she won't eat anything she hasn't eaten before. She will put it in her mouth but then hook it out with her forefinger with the word "Mmlair". Or simply open her little beak and let the food roll out.

The fact that you cannot bribe, cajole or otherwise force a pre-verbal toddler to eat something it doesn't want to is both frightening and liberating. She doesn't want it. There's nothing I can do except try again another time.

But even though I privately think that she can eat whatever the hell she wants, I must maintain a pretence in front of my husband and other middle-class people that I think she needs to eat vegetables.

So I purchased the River Cottage Babies and Toddlers Cookbook and set about making what I thought looked like a very tasty fingerfood, called Courgette Polpette.

They are really, really yummy and easy and I heartily recommend them as a delicious canape for your next soiree. Kitty hated them, obviously. But, thankfully, I don't give a fuck.

Courgette polpette

500g courgettes, finely diced
Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 beaten egg
2 tbsp grated parmesan or pecorino
1/2 ball mozarella
50g breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped parsely
1 garlic clove, finely sliced or grated
salt and pepper

1 Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the courgette over a medium flame for 10 minutes (time it) until they have taken a bit of colour and have collapsed just slightly

2 Allow to cool for as long as you can be bothered and then combine with all the other ingredients. The mixture will be quite wet and sticky

3 Form walnut-sized blobs and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes and serve to your baby with prosecco.


  1. I hear you on this! My toddler sometimes will devour a plate of veg then look upon it with disgust and ask for biscuits, at least she does eat grapes, so frustrating when you actually do spend the time and effort making the ruddy healthy food! Will try these polpette though - think the husband and I will love them!

  2. ooh thanks for making these - I have them marked in the book to make and yours look great. My son at 8.5 months is the opposite and will eat literally anything so although I spend lots of time thinking up new, interesting delicacies for him to try I could probably just plonk the raw ingredients of this recipe in front of him and he'd find a way to cram it all into his mouth!

  3. This looks bloody delish. I don't have kids so I don't need to worry about force-feeding them veggies. I do have to do it to myself though - left to my own devices I would happily survive on cake and cheese. But there's loads of cheese in this recipe - hurrah!

  4. Do you think Kitty was trying to say 'unfamiliar'?

  5. Vegetables are always best if there is frying involved at some stage.

    And cheese.

    This looks yummy.

  6. I have these at Carluccios sometimes and I love them. Thanks for the recipe. I have three children, 12, 8 and 5. They were all raised the same. They all eat different things. They are all a bloody nightmare and I would have thought that at least one of them would have come down with rickets or scurvy by now. It has not happened, which is reassuring. My middling,

    Tallulah, hates most fruit and always has. She will not even eat jam. She eats raisins, and will now, after eight years, eat a banana every now and again if we sit on her chest. She looks hale and hearty.

    Proceed. Kitty will be fine.

  7. These - and that whole cookbook - look fantastic. My smallest is refusing to be spoon fed at all now and is only eating finger food in order to be able to check what's in it after making her suffer a course of particularly offensive antibiotics recently, so this is particularly well timed for me. Thanks!

  8. Yum .Want to ake these but unsure about the mozarella ball . Here in Oz we have fresh mozarella ( large or mini ) called bocconcini , or dried ( large only ) Sorry to be a nuisance , but could you tell me approximately how much a ball weighs and whether it is fresh or dried ?

  9. You need 60-70g fresh mozzarella x

  10. A friend of mine cooks, vitamizes and then freezes huge quantities of vegetables which she then sneaks into the foods that her children (4, 6 and 8) will eat. I just used to make up new names for meals that my children had previously rejected. They'd at least try anything once. (Clearly, Kitty is a still little way off this stage.)

    1. My mother was obsessed with making me eat liver for the vitamins when I was about 5 - I obviously thought it was disgusting and so every week we had new and exotic animals, from zebra through hippo to giraffe. All of which were rejected on the grounds of tasting "a lot like liver Mum". She gave up in due course (am oldest of 4) and we are all equally healthy. Except I love liver and the no-longer-so little ones won't touch it.

  11. This looks and sounds yum - I might try it on my 3 who are 6,5 and 3 (I know...) but they only eat "joined up food" eg. seperate food items on a plate so I'll inevitably end up snaffling the lot afterwards and then having a second supper when my husband gets home. And I wonder why I can't ever lose weight.
    How many does this make please? Just in case I fancy doing for a party...
    Thanks, Laura

  12. Neither of my two are very keen on veg either and I'm also very relaxed about it much to lots of people's disgust. A great book about it all is Carlos Gonzalez's My Child Won't Eat. I love his attitude, the antithesis of most 'parenting' books.

  13. Mid cooking now... What temp oven please?

    Loving your work as always x

    1. Stuck them in at 200c and they are delicious. Mmm. Held breath as daughter ate a piece.

      Now boiling her an egg.

      Ok, am making the banana bread at the weekend. At least one of us (again) will like it...

  14. My kids are both good eaters when they can be arsed. When they aren't I can't be bothered to care. I mind more about decent table manners and proper holding of cutlery. They will eat more adventurously when they are older. I nearly died laughing when they both rejected my husband's pork mince/pearl barley risotto rip-off and he had a hissy fit at them (ages 4 and 21 months). I like your blog and can I suggest a Nurofen syringe for administering calpol? Much less mess.