Back to basics

Back to basics

Get a veg boost!

Wondering how to get the kids eating more veg this summer? Check out these twists on family favourite recipes from Co-op chef Dai Llewellyn

Rainbow pizza with broccoli base

For pizza with a difference, swap the standard wheat-based dough for a tasty veg-based version

Makes 2 medium-sized pizzas (serves 6) • Ready in 40 mins, plus cooling

‘If your kids prefer cauliflower to broccoli, this works just as well for the base. Just make sure the ‘crumbs‘ are fully dried out. You can also swap the cheese alternative for houmous.‘ 


  • 2 large heads broccoli, broken into florets
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 125g dairy-free soft cheese alternative
  • 3 mixed peppers, chopped 
  • 125g red cabbage, shredded  
  • Handful basil leaves
  • 2 x 125g bags Co-op baby spinach
  1. Put the broccoli florets into a food processor and blitz until they resemble fine breadcrumbs – you may need to do this in batches. 
  2. Dry fry the broccoli crumbs in a large nonstick pan for 8 mins, stirring frequently, to dry it out. Season, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. When the broccoli mixture has cooled slightly, stir in the ground almonds and shape into two balls. Put onto lined baking trays and roll out into round pizza bases. Brush with the oil and bake for 8 mins.
  4. Remove the bases from the oven. Gently spread them with the soft cheese alternative, then top with the peppers and red cabbage – the bases will be quite soft, so handle with care. Cook for 8-10 mins more, until the veg has softened. Season, then scatter with the basil leaves and serve with the spinach on the side.

Fruity chicken curry

The fruit and veg in this mild dish not only ramp up the flavour but help the chicken go further

Serves 4 • Ready in 30 mins

‘The beauty of this dish is that you can swap in all sorts of other veg, depending on what your kids like ­and what you‘ve got in the house. Try replacing the courgette with peas, green beans or even diced sweet potato. Frozen veg works well, too – you can swap the baby corn for frozen sweetcorn.‘


  • 4 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 Co-op British chicken breast fillets, chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 2 Co-op British carrots, finely grated
  • 2 apples, finely grated, any juice saved
  • 2 x 125g packs Co-op baby corn 
  • 1 courgette, halved lengthways, then sliced
  • 200g Co-op cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 x 200ml cans Co-op light coconut milk
  • 280g Co-op basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp chopped dried apricots or sultanas
  • Small handful coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)
  1. Heat half the oil in a nonstick pan and cook the chicken for 4-5 mins, until golden. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onion for 3 mins. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the curry powder and cook for one minute more.
  3. Pour in 50ml water, then add the carrot, grated apple and any juice, baby corn, courgette, tomatoes, coconut milk and chicken. Mix well, then simmer for 15 mins.  
  4. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the pack instructions. Serve the curry with the rice on the side, sprinkled with the dried fruit and coriander, if using.

Hidden veg spaghetti bolognese

Grating or finely chopping veggies is good way to sneak them into dishes like this Italian classic

Serves 6 • Ready in 45 mins

‘This is a fantastically versatile recipe that you can serve up in many different ways. Swap the spaghetti for penne, sprinkle with a little cheese and pop it in the oven for a pasta bake. Transform it into a mild chilli with a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a half-teaspoon of cumin ­– perfect for burritos or with a baked potato. Or top it with sweet potato mash for a twist on shepherd‘s pie.‘


  • 400g can Co-op Honest Value red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Co-op British carrots, grated
  • 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 500g Co-op British 5% fat  beef mince 
  • 375ml beef stock, made with 1 reduced-salt stock cube
  • 400g can Co-op Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 450g wholewheat spaghetti
  • Small handful basil leaves 
  1. Blitz the kidney beans with a handheld blender, adding a little water if needed (or mash well with a fork). Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 5 mins over a low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 mins, then add the carrot and celery, and cook for 3 mins more.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and add the beef, breaking up any lumps with a spoon. Cook until browned, then stir in the stock, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, mixed herbs, Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée. Season, then simmer for 25 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the pack instructions. Drain, then add to the bolognese sauce and toss together. Serve with the basil leaves scattered over.

Tuna & sweetcorn burgers

The vibrant salsa and sweet potato fries all boost the veg content in this mouthwatering recipe

Serves 4 • Ready in 30 minutes

‘Sometimes the patties can break up a bit when you‘re shaping them, in which case just add a beaten egg or a tablespoon of olive oil to the mix. If your kids – like mine – aren’t keen on fresh tomatoes, you can replace the salsa with some grated carrots mixed with sultanas; or try smashed cucumber with crispy onions.


  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into fries
  • 4 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 60g Co-op wild rocket
  • 2 x 145g cans Co-op tuna chunks in spring water, drained
  • 2 x 198g cans Co-op naturally sweet sweetcorn, drained
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 100g Co-op cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Co-op balsamic vinegar of Modena
  • 4 wholemeal buns or soft rolls
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Toss the sweet potato fries in 2 tsp of the oil and spread out on a baking tray. Bake for 20-25 mins, until tender and crisp at the edges, tossing halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, put the breadcrumbs in a food processor with half the rocket and blitz. Add the tuna and half the sweetcorn, then blitz until roughly combined. Tip into a bowl and mix in half the spring onion along with the rest of the sweetcorn. Season, then shape into four patties.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and fry the patties for 5 mins on each side, until cooked through and golden.
  4. Mix the remaining spring onion, apple, cherry tomatoes and vinegar to make a salsa.
  5. Toast the buns. Top the bun bases with the remaining rocket leaves, followed by the burgers. Add a little salsa, then top with the bun lids. Serve with the sweet potato fries and any extra salsa on the side.

‘For my kids, I find mixing up cooking methods is a great way to keep veg interesting – roasting broccoli instead of steaming; or mashing carrot with sweet potato to create an appealing bright orange crush! If one method of cooking doesn’t go down well, try another. My biggest tip is to cook a batch of tomato sauce packed with “stealth veg“ – a few carrots or half-cut peppers. Blend it, then use as a base for all sorts of dishes. Also, kids love to get involved, so let them help with safe tasks in the kitchen, which will help spark their interest.‘ Dai Llewellyn, Co-op executive innovation chef