Easy Spinach, peas & cheese Macaroni … perfect for your toddlers

Level of cooking:

This is sooooo easy. You will only fail if you are not able to (a) read packet instructions on the back of pasta, or (b) you’re a total idiot.  I mainly use Organic for this, simply because my toddlers eat this more than we do.  I started adding Spinach & peas to the kids cheese macaroni as they simply would not eat their greens any other way.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta 500g (or 250g if you have a smaller family) – I use an Organic mutli-coloured Penne or the Twists (you know the green, brown & white pasta combined).
  • Unsalted butter – 50g.
  • Olive Oil – 1x tablespoon.
  • Bread-crumbs – 3 tablespoons.
  • Parmesan cheese – 100g grated.
  • Onion – 1x large onion choped & diced.
  • Garlic – 4 cloves finely chopped & diced.
  • Spinach 400g – I use the organic frozen type that comes in little round balls you can simply take out what you need & return the rest to the freezer.  Its also just as good as fresh Spinach & a LOT less fuss to cook.
  • Peas 350g – again I use the frozen variety available in any supermarket.  ** You can substitute the peas for broccoli (I do this sometimes to make sure the kids get their veggies).
  • Cheese 450g – mild chedder cheese, grated.
  • 3-4 tablespoons ground nutmeg.
  • 2 tablespoons parsley.
  • 3 tablespoons Honey Dijon Mustard.
  • 250 mls full fat milk.
  • 250 mls double cream.
  • Salt & Pepper.
How to cook:
  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and then put aside.  Be sure to add some salt (not too much as its for your toddlers) and olive oil to the water before putting the pasta in the boiling water to cook.  Once cooked, leave in a colander to drain and make the sauce.
  • Now for the sauce, start by frying the chopped onions and garlic in a large, deep saucepan with approx. 50 grams butter and a tablespoon of olive oil (I tend to reuse the one I just cooked the pasta in to save washing-up).
  • Once the onions have turned golden, add the spinach & peas and cook for approx. 5-8 minutes or until they have melted and are cooking.
  • Then turn the heat to low, add the milk, cream & Dijon Mustard and stir everything well.
  • Take the sauce OFF the hob now and puree with a handheld blender until its smooth but not watery.  This makes the sauce creamy and ensures the spinach, peas, onions and garlic are smooth (to ensure your kids eat the damn stuff!).
  • Once everything is pureed,  place the sauce back on the hob, on a low heat, and add your grated cheese, ground nutmeg, parsley and seasoning (not too much salt & pepper though as its for the kids but you can add more to your own portions after).
  • Let this cook on low until all the cheese has melted.  If its too stringy or sticky due to the cheese melting, add more milk (or cream if you want to be naughty… I personally add cream as the calories are fine for my 20 month old toddlers at the moment).  While this is cooking, put your oven on to 170 degrees and get a large baking dish ready (just leave on the side until you need to use it).
  • Now take the sauce off the hob and add your strained pasta which has been sat patiently in a colander.  * Hopefully you have thought to give the pasta a shake every so often while you’ve been cooking so it doesn’t all stick together in a mass lump when you pour it into your sauce.
  • Mix all the pasta with the pureed cheese, spinach and peas sauce, then pour all of it into your baking dish (something large enough to hold everything obviously).
  • Mix the bread-crumbs and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle on TOP of the pasta which is now sat in your baking dish.  I also like to sprinkle a little ground nutmeg on top of all of this as it tastes delicious.
  • Place the dish into the middle tray of the oven for approx. 10-15 minutes, or until the top of the pasta starts to turn brown but not burn.  If it’s already looking like its about to burn after 5 minutes, loosely place some foil on top of the pasta and continue to cook for an extra 10 minutes.
* The photos included show the pasta bake after its come out of the oven and had a chunk already taken out of it (my Husband is a greedy git & got to the food before I could take a photo).  You can see how the inside has a gorgeous, cheesy/veggie sauce, while the top has a slightly crunchy bread-crumb & Parmesan crust.  Yes, yes…. I’m a friggin genius. Thank me when your kids start eating their veg!
* NB.  You DO NOT have to bake this pasta in the oven once it’s cooked on the hob.  You can simply make the pasta and sauce as stated in detail above, then serve without going into the oven and without adding the topping.  This is much quicker if you only have 15 minutes to make the kids dinner.  This pasta can last up to 3 days in the fridge.

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3 responses to “Easy Spinach, peas & cheese Macaroni … perfect for your toddlers”

  1. Parental Parody says :

    I’ve become a pro at hiding spinach in EVERYTHING – even cakes and cookies. That and brocolli stem, since it’s the part most filled with vitamins and minerals. If only I could find a way to make it taste good in Vodka, I’d neve need to eat again.

  2. Melinda says :

    Okay, you’re a riot. I’m on a mountain and you’re in HK (which is much more civilized than where I am!). On a mountain…with a dachshund…and a toddler. Hope I can keep writing as you have, you gotta pretty this page up a little bit though! Pictures?

  3. fruitlessbloom says :

    Thanks for the comments. I’m trying to sort this website out but finding the time (you know, amoung my pedicures, massages and having full-time staff) is impossible! Once i pop this sprog out, I’ll be back to normal. That is unless i get struck down with postnatal depression which I can only see happening if I end up breast feeding and having to stay sober for a minute longer than necessary.

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