Julie’s Leek ‘Heart’ and Spelt Salad
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
180g spelt grain
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
12 tbsp thinly sliced leek ‘hearts’ – the centre light green section of the entire leek
30g watercress, stems removed
1.5 tbsp crushed walnuts
2 tbsp crumbly cheese (feta, blue cheese, or vegan cheese)
Pear salsa dressing:
1 tsp margarine or butter
2 pears, peeled and diced
200 ml water
2.5 tbsp runny honey
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Rinse the spelt grain under cold water. Add the rinsed spelt to a saucepan, and cover with enough cold water to cover it by at least 1.5 -2 cm. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until tender, approx. 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the leek ‘hearts’.
Cut the leek hearts lengthways, and cut into matchstick-size pieces. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the leek hearts and sauté for 1-2 minutes until just tender. Remove immediately and set aside.
Wash the watercress, crush the walnuts into rough pieces and crumble the cheese. Cut the figs in quarters lengthways, then cut into wedges.
For the pear salsa dressing: Melt the margarine or butter in a shallow fry pan on a low heat. Add the diced pears and cook until tender, but still firm and starting to golden. Mix the honey and water and add to the pears in the fry pan, and cook at a low simmer. Add the turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook on the lowest heat until the pears are tender and the salsa sauce has reduced and thickened.
To assemble the salad – in a large bowl add the cooked spelt grain, stir through half of the pear salsa, and stir to combine.
Add the watercress, half of the leek hearts and half of the walnuts. Stir through to combine. Divide the salad amongst 2 serving bowls. Top each bowl with the remaining leek hearts, walnuts, and finally the wedges of fig. Drizzle more of the salsa dressing over the top, and finally sprinkle the crumbly cheese over the top of the salad, and serve.
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
Get the kids to rinse the spelt and put it in a pan with the cold water. They can wash the watercress, crush the walnuts and crumble the cheese, and then have them help you assemble the salads.
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.