Why mini food-fascists shouldn’t ruin your day

vegie smugglers panzanella

So delicious, the kids might just join in after all.

So you’ve looked at the picture and now I can hear you screeching, “Has she gone mad! There’s NO WAY my kids would eat that”. And possibly you’re right. The vegies are all on show, there’s A LOT of them and there’s even little bits of poison like olives included in this panzanella.

But the thing is, kids are never going to eat a salad like this if they’re never introduced to it. I get sick of parents saying to me “my kids just WON’T eat (insert item name)”, to which I say, “do you ever serve (insert that item name)”, then usually they sheepishly admit that no, they never do.

I understand that you’re battle weary, but how on earth will your kids ever eat a wide variety of food if you’ve stopped serving it?

The kids shouldn’t hold us hostage, destined to a life of sausages and carrot sticks. They need to understand that while you do spend time creating their favourite dishes, sometimes they have to join in with your favourite dishes too. They need to see adults enjoying healthy food. And if you serve this at your next BBQ, they can see lots of adults oohing and aahing over it. Being that kids are such classic joiner-innerers, they might even have a stab at it. At this stage, my kids will munch on the bread, capsicum, cucumber and olives.

Who knows, by the end of summer, after seeing and eating it multiple times, I’m betting that they’ll just tuck straight in.

If cooked till nice and black, the skin will peel off the capsicums easily. No need to place in bags/tea towels or anything.


½ red onion
2 red capsicums
½ Baguette (or slices of sourdough – it’s delicious and chewy)
2 large cloves garlic
1 large Lebanese cucumber
2 punnets of cherry or roma tomatoes OR 3 big vine ripened OR 4 roma tomatoes
Handful of olives
½ bunch basil
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Slice the red onion and place in a cup of iced water. This takes the ‘bite’ out of the onion but still leaves it firm and crunchy. Leave to soak for at least 10 minutes then drain and set aside.

Cut the cheeks off the capsicum and place under a hot griller until totally blackened. Remove and set aside until they’re cool enough to handle. Once they are, peel and discard the skin.

Grill the baguette or sourdough slices until toasted. Do both sides then remove. Rub garlic over one side while the bread is still hot.

Chop your tomatoes (just in half for little ones) and add to a salad bowl. Add in the chopped cucumber and chopped capsicum flesh.

Tear over the basil and the toasted bread. Toss through the onion and olives.

Mix the oil and vinegar together (whisk with a fork) and pour over.

This salad can be served fresh but its nice to leave it sit for a couple of hours so that the flavours can combine.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sarah said,

    We can’t stand olives in this household – is there something we could use as a substitute, or just omit them?

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      Just leave them out. I like the pungency, and finally have gotten Miss F eating them, but understand that most kids find them repulsive. 😉

  2. 3

    Natural New Age Mum said,

    I love the onion tip – never knew that! I totally agree with you about veges – my kids have had their ups and downs with being fussy, but I keep putting it on their plate! They will eat most veges unsmuggled now.

  3. 4

    Melissa said,

    We constantly battle with vegies. Sometimes my daughter will eat raw broccoli in the trolley at the fruit and veg shop, othertimes she won’t touch the honey carrots, which she normally loves. My son will eat off someone else’s plate, but not his own. I just keep serving vegies up in new and interesting ways and hope that eventually they’ll get so sick of my whinging that they’ll just eat them!!

  4. 6

    Claire Bailey said,

    This sounds amazingly good. My miss3 loves olives and her favourite job in the kitchen is peeling garlic so this sounds like an absolute winner. One for the weekend while Granma is visiting 🙂

  5. 7

    Nat M said,

    my mouth is watering – am definitely giving this one a try! my kids will love it – just gotta convince Daddy! 😉

  6. 9

    Barbara Good said,

    This sounds perfect for a BBQ I’ve got next weekend.

    And I’m with you on the not being held hostage thing. I cooked up pasta primavera the other night, broad beans, asparagus and all with no hiding anything and all GREEN! Miss One, who is an absolute food trooper gobbled the lot without flinching, Miss Three who drives me to the bottle most nights (oops) ate the paste and left the greens. But I’m sure she still got some of the flavour and nutrients… right? I cooked it because I grew all these fabulous green veggies and I really wanted to eat the in a dish where they were the hero not hidden in some mince or cut so small I couldn’t recognise them. I have no problems doing that but sometimes it’s not about the children, some nights it’s about what I want to eat!

    • 10

      wendyblume said,

      You inspire me so much! Fresh broad beans are so good. I reckon you’ll love this recipe for sure. Especially in a couple of months when it’s all fresh out of your patch.

  7. 11

    becky mcclure said,

    I totally agree, i make one dinner, keeping in mind what my 4 year old likes but if i fancy something i wont not make it just in-case she wont like it, how can their tastes grow and mature if you dint keep introducing them to new things of serving up things they once didnt like. I love your recipes and so glad i founfdyour blog and FB page!!

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