Egg free, wheat free, gluten free, nut free, (optional: dairy free)
ALL THOUGHTS of raising a veggie child flew straight out of the window when Sid turned out to be allergic to virtually all of my staples (eggs, wheat, pulses, nuts, hummus), the little bugger.
In all honesty, I’d never seriously considered bringing him up a vegetarian as my husband’s a meat eater and I have to confess to very fond memories of all my childhood meaty meals. After all, I’m half Roman on my Dad’s side and Jewish with an Irish-English bent on my Mum’s so how could I not have happy recollections of everything from salami to salt beef, steak ‘n’ kidney pie, roast pork with all the crackling (non-practising Jewish, all right?), even, I’m afraid, a bit of the old vitello tonnato. My veggie ways are all about the animal thing, not the taste thing.
So while I’m squeamish about handling raw meat and leave most of the handiwork on that front to my husband, I’m very happy to introduce Sidney to as many tasty foods as we safely can.
These lamb sausages were pilfered and adapted from a baby-led weaning cookbook and they have a few bonuses: they’re stuffed with veg, they freeze well and can be steamed back to juicy life (I’m told) in no time; plus they make great portable finger food as well as a hearty complement to a traditional meat and two veg dinner.
The original recipe, if I remember rightly, includes peas but, since they’re out for us, I use courgette, leek and, depending what’s in the fridge, a little cheddar or parmesan for added oomph. They’re just as good dairy free, though.
250g minced lamb
1 medium leek, finely chopped
2 courgettes, finely chopped
Ground black pepper to taste
Fresh herbs to taste (optional)
Handful grated parmesan (check the ingredients label to ensure there is no egg – the similar Grana Padano cheeses tend to include it) or cheddar
Olive oil to grease pan
Steam or sauté the courgettes and leeks in a little olive oil until soft (you could add some finely chopped garlic and onion, too). Plop the lamb mince in a bowl and mix well with the cooked veg. Season with black pepper, add chopped fresh herbs if you fancy – mint’s a good one – and stir again.
Let the veg cool down before taking small handfuls of the mixture and forming little sausages. You could turn them into meatballs, or flat patties, but a sausage is particularly good for younger babies to grip. If the mix is sticky, you could dust your hands first with some wheat free, gluten free flour, but I’ve never found this to be necessary.
Place the sausages on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Ideally, if you have the time, stick them in the fridge for an hour or so before baking – this lets them firm up nicely.
Bake in a 200˚C oven for around 25 minutes to half an hour. You’ll know they’re cooked when they’re browned on the outside and no longer pink when you cut through one.
Perfect served fresh and hot, or cold the next day. I always freeze a batch for future use. Let them cool before layering them between sheets of baking paper in a foil carton and freezing. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then steam in a colander over a pan for 30 to 45 minutes until piping hot. Yum (apparently).