Give Me Five: Root vegetable ribbons with chicken and thyme

This is a nice dish to make with small children

 

I really thought that when it came to cooking for toddlers I would have to be inventive and trick them into eating healthy food, but really it’s not too difficult.

All I need to do is express an interest in eating something myself and, hey presto, they want it. They need it. They have insisted I put raw red and yellow peppers in their lunchbox. They won’t eat green pepper because I don’t. They dip sweet-potato chips in tahini and pretend to grind black pepper over everything. Whatever I am having for dinner, they will try.

Small children are constantly learning and have a thirst for knowledge. They are full of questions about everything and are eager to try new things. Very few kitchen utensils are safe for them to use, so mine are restricted to whisking, mixing with a wooden spoon, grating and kneading.

If they are left unsupervised for seconds, there could be flour all over the floor, eggs cracked on the work surface and entire bags of sugar thrown into cake batter. Not to mention the accidents that can happen. Only enlist the help of a toddler when you have the time and patience to do so.

This dish is a nice one to make with small children. They can be helped to use a peeler and can then mix all the ribbons in a bowl by themselves. Leave the cooking to the adults, but let them watch and tell you when they think it’s done. It gives them a great sense of ownership. These ribbons are fun to make and fun to eat.

I love making these root vegetables really peppery, with a burst of lemon juice to cut across the buttery sauce that clings to each ribbon. It’s a fantastic way to eat more vegetables.

They cook in a matter of minutes and are faster and healthier than boiling up a pot of pasta.You can dress them with pesto as you would tagliatelle. It is lovely with Bolognese too and makes for a perfect side dish for pork chops or grilled fish. Or just add more vegetables, such as finely shaved fennel or turnip. Marjoram, parsley and sage are delicious alternative herbs for this dish.

The ribbons look beautiful when made from multicoloured heritage carrots. The deep purple, pale yellow and almost blood red carrots look very striking cooked this way.

I’ve used thyme and butter here, but I sometimes make a version with carrots and dress it with a little sesame seed oil and sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds for crunch. It is delicious and makes a speedy side dish.

Here in Cork we are spoiled for choice when it comes to farmer’s markets. Midleton has the original farmer’s market, founded by Darina Allen and local farmers. Then there are the markets in Cobh, Douglas, Mahon Point, the Coal Quay and more.

One of my favourite stalls is Annie’s Roasts. Annie has a mobile rotisserie with plump, free-range chickens that rotate slowly and enticingly. It’s hard to walk past without considering buying at least one.

I usually buy a few raw chickens for the freezer, or one from the rotisserie. The meat falls off the bone and the carcass is perfect for stock. It’s a fantastic convenience being able to get a precooked chicken from a local family farm, free-range and of such consistent quality.

Last week I spotted ducks in her fridge and have been regretting not buying one. Expect a duck recipe soon.

ROOT VEGETABLE RIBBONS WITH CHICKEN: SERVES 4

The five ingredients

  • 4 carrots
  • 3 parsnip
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Roast chicken, sliced

From the pantry

  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Butter 

Method

Peel vegetables into wide strips. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large, wide pan. Add the vegetable parings and, using tongs, keep them moving over a medium heat until just wilted (less than five minutes). Season and sprinkle with thyme. Divide the ribbons among four warm bowls and top with slices of roast chicken. Serve immediately.

  • Every Thursday, we’ll tweet the five ingredients from @lillyhiggins and @irishtimeslife so you can have them ready for Friday. Email givemefive@irishtimes.com with your suggestions for recipes
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