Christmas is coming, the Lee Family are getting fat. Sometimes, you just want to know that you have something virtuous but stonkingly yummy waiting for you, and I think this is one of those warming dishes that can be as naughty or nice as you like.
My instinct is to carb load and then add cheese on top (see later) so I wanted to try out cooking up something that would, at it’s heart, be healthy, one-pot and easily modified to suit the needs of the family, and act as a great base for Christmas dinner leftovers.
This dish is a Butternut Squash Chilli recipe, with a decent portion taken out of the main pot before you add the spices for the grown-ups and then cooked separately to include a cooked chicken thigh so that the little one gets a good dose of all important protein.
Serves 2-3 famished grown ups, and 2-3 portions for a hungry baby
2 tbsp olive oil
Half of a decent-sized Butternut Squash, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes (freeze the other half)
1 Red and 1 Yellow Pepper, deseeded and diced
1 courgette (or more if it’s teeny), diced
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2x Tinned Tomatoes
1/2 a can of sweetcorn
400g red kidney beans
2 handfuls of Spinach, chopped roughly
250ml low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
Additions for Baby:
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 chicken thigh, boneless and skinless, sliced in half so that you have two thinner fillets
Finishing Touches for Grown-Ups:
Pinch of dried chilli (or more, to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp of cocoa powder
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the onions, peppers and garlic till softened for a few minutes.
Add the courgette and sweetcorn, and cook till the courgette softens for another few minutes.
Add the tinned tomatoes, beans and the stock then mix well. Allow to boil and then lower to a simmer for 15- 20 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer for another few minutes till wilted.
At this point you then take out about 4-5 ladle scoops of the mix to pop into a small saucepan – this will become your Baby mix.
To the main pot – this is when you add the flavour and spice to make it palatable for grown-ups! Add the chilli, cumin, cayenne and cocoa powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper and voila – finished. By all means, if you have leftovers from your Christmas meal, they’d make a tasty addition to the chilli.
I served this with a sprinkling of Tabasco, garlic bread, avocado and cheese on top.
Baby Mix: (as seen in the photo at the top)
Pop the small saucepan containing the Baby mix back onto a low-to-medium heat and add the 1/4 tsp cumin. It might seem a little strange to put a relatively strong tasting spice into baby food but babies apparently enjoy strong flavours – I can attest that Adelyn usually noms this down with gusto.
Add the chicken too and allow to cook for another 10 minutes. I like to just place this on top of the mix, slightly submerged. Once it’s cooked, I can then easily scoop the chicken out and chop it up finely (if your baby is on Stage 3 weaning/can deal with texture/lumps). If your baby prefers a smoother texture, blitz the lot up and serve up a portion.
Freezes well, just defrost and heat gently to eat.