Dubai cooking classes for kids

We join up with little chefs in Dubai to learn about culinary flair


Armed with an organic veggie box from Ripe, but little in the way of inspiration, Time Out Kids sought the expert guidance of Dubai’s very own domestic goddess, Tina McFadzean, above, founder of Little Chefs Dubai. With the help of her two boys, Keenan, nine, and Noah, seven, she showed us how to rustle up some easy-peasy, family friendly meals that had our mouths watering in anticipation.

‘I subscribe to the school of thought that if children help prepare their food, they are much more likely to eat it. That said, take the kids to the market and show them what is available, even let them choose some ingredients. I am also not big on recipes, but rather ideas, so you can add what you like.

‘The first thing to do when you get your Ripe box is to make a pesto. We are lucky in Dubai because we can use so many fresh herbs for pesto. If you don’t like basil, make a coriander pesto, if you don’t like coriander, make one from dill or a mint. Any one will accentuate the flavours of these beautiful vegetables.

‘With this quality of ingredients, it is hard to go wrong. I like a rustic brown pasta salad with handfuls of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, onions and beans. Have the children wash and dry the lettuce leaves and tear them into the salad. Dress it with light pesto vinaigrette of your choice.

‘Quesadillas are some of our all-time faves. We fill them with everything from turkey bacon, egg and cheese to peanut butter and jelly. With lovely tomatoes like those in the veggie box, I can’t help but think of the Salad Caprese on a quesadilla! Take a wholegrain tortilla, grate some fresh mozzarella and place some of the chopped tomatoes on top. Have the kids tear some fresh basil leaves on top. Fold over the tortilla and spread both sides with olive oil and toast in a hot pan until golden and the mozzarella is melted and gooey.

‘One of my favourite dishes is the Spanish tapas, Pan con Tomate – I like using the artisanal breads now available here (you can find them at the farmers’ market, too). Just toast the bread and while it is hot rub both sides and the crust with a cut clove of garlic. Squeeze half of a tomato all over the bread, drizzle with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

‘When we were growing up, just about this time of year, my mum used to scoop out the seeds from cucumbers and chop them up along with some tomatoes and an onion. She’d add a pinch of salt and pepper, a splash of oil and some white vinegar. So simple yet so delicious. You could add some pasta, rice or cous cous and a grating of some feta cheese, too.

‘Stuffed peppers are great any time of year and I like to stuff mine with a mixture of quinoa, oats, lentils and sautéed veggies. Again, use any veg you like. I like mushrooms, onions, garlic and some beans. Add a spoon of oats and a spoon of lentils to the veg, cook your quinoa separately and then mix. Stuff your peppers (or better yet, have the kids stuff them), add some tomato sauce and cheese on top and bake covered for 45 minutes to an hour.’ Bon appetite!
Find Little Chefs Dubai via their Facebook page, or contact Tina McFadzean at 050 458 3015; Ripe organic boxes are on sale at the Dubai Garden Centre’s farmers market every Saturday between 9.30am and 1pm. Dhs80 (small box), Dhs130 (large box).

Pesto, pronto!

Mint Pesto
Delicious with roasted baby potatoes and avocado, tomatoes and pasta
4 cups mint
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup pistachios, toasted
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
Blend all ingredients, adding olive oil to desired consistency.
Dill Pesto
Try with smoked salmon, labneh, toasted bread and spring onions
3 cups dill
4 garlic cloves
½ cup walnuts, toasted
½ cup feta cheese
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper
1 cup olive oil
Blend ingredients.
Coriander Pesto
This is so nice because you get the Thai flavours: salty, sour, sweet and spicy. Delicious with grilled prawns, rice noodles, carrots and cucumber salad
3 cups fresh coriander
½ cup cashews, toasted
Juice of 2 limes
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons honey
Fresh chillies to taste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ teaspoon sesame sauce
Salt and pepper
½ cup coconut oil
Blend to desired consistency.

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