Roast vegetable tart with nut-free spinach / kale pesto

This classic easy dinner is a great one for children to help make. Rolling out and pricking the pastry, ‘painting’ it with egg and talking about different vegetables and how to prepare them gives lots of scope for involvement. Whizzing up the pesto is fun too – this one was devised with seasonality in mind…

Easy Seasonal Stone Fruit Tart

This quick tart looks and tastes more impressive than its simple assembly and six basic ingredients would imply. Serve with yoghurt or a spoonful of ice-cream for a satisfying pudding that makes the most of the glut of wonderful late-summer stone fruit. Serves 6 Ingredients 250g puff pastry 12 plums or apricots, halved and de-stoned;…

Vegetable and lentil loaded Bolognaise sauce

This sauce has so many uses: on its own with bread mixed through spaghetti or other pasta (choose wholemeal if you can) top with mashed potato for a cottage pie turn it into a lasagne top with savoury crumble spoon over rice (again, brown is better) add kidney beans and chilli powder for a quick…

Mexican (ish) potato skins with refried beans, cheese and guacamole

This recipe works very neatly in tandem with gnocchi; it means you don’t have to waste those beautiful crispy potato skins once you’ve baked the spuds. It’s also a really cheap meal. Serves 2 Ingredients Cooked skins of 2 baked potatoes – just the skins, potato flesh removed 1 tablespoon jalapenos, finely sliced Refried beans 1…

Cheap, quick and simple vegetarian courgette lasagne

  Much quicker than the usual bechamel/white sauce version, this is a good week-night lasagne. Flavour comes from the garlicky, herby tomato sauce and the cheeses; it’s a rich but healthy dinner which is popular with children and a handy fallback for a meat-free night. To make this more seasonal in the winter months, try…

Ginger spiced parsnip and apple soup

Rain scatterguns the windows; it’s pitch dark by 5pm. The waves are a constant thunder, provoked by Storm Angus out of yesterday’s flat calm. A night like this calls for a soup like this, flickering with ginger warmth and Christmas nutmeg spice: decorate it with savoury treats and serve with hot buttered toast. Serves 6 Ingredients…

Roast squash, goats cheese and walnut filo parcels

Satisfying, crunchy parcels that you can eat with your hands if you want – they’re best hot and crisp out of the oven, but would make good picnic food too. These can, of course, be adapted to hold so many things – whatever cheese, veg, herbs and nuts you have around, and would also be…

Breaded hake with green sauce, pak choi and lentils

This works with any meaty white fish: pollock/coley, rock turbot, cod, haddock (and monkfish, but please only as a very occasional treat, there are question marks over its sustainability). Pak choi can be substituted for mushrooms or most greens: kale, spinach, spring greens and broccoli all work (though I clearly forgot to add any of…

Chai, date and honey loaf cake

This is entirely because my much loved pot of chai spice mix suggests adding it to cakes. Tremendous idea. This low-sugar loaf cake is light as air; quick and simple to make; wonderful with a cup of tea and its grown-up flavour still passed the toddler test. Freezes well, cuts into 10-12 slices Ingredients 3 tablespoons honey 200g unsalted butter…

Sweet potato and mackerel bites

Mackerel is one of those relatively strong flavours that I’m surprised how readily babies and small children take to – mackerel pate has been a favourite food of my daughter’s since she weaned. She’s always been a fan of various versions of these, but they’re definitely not ‘just’ for children; they make just as good a…

Learn to Cook: apple crumble

Serves 6 Ingredients 800g apples (about 5) of any variety about 60g brown sugar: demerara, soft brown or golden caster are all fine (use less sugar if your apples are already sweet) juice of 1/2 lemon For the crumble: 350g plain flour 100g brown sugar 250g cold butter To finish: 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 tablespoons…