Veggie Bird Nest

Have a picky eater? Need more lunch ideas where you can sneak in veggies?


My oldest daughter is very visual and very picky. If I ask her if she would like green beans for dinner, I get an “Ewww! YUCK!” But when I offer “butter beans,” I get “What are those?” “Green beans with butter and seasoning.” “YUM! YESSS!”

And I’ve learned if I call something savory a muffin or pancake, it will get rejected unless it’s sweet, since she associates those words with sweet items. So instead of “Veggie Pancakes,” I call these leek-cabbage-potato latkes “Veggie Birds Nests.” Win!

These are also great packed inside a lunch box and eaten at room temperature. My daughter loves them with MOMable’s homemade ketchup.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Leeks are a great source of vitamin C, iron, and fiber. Cabbage is a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and fiber. And potatoes (with the skin) contain every nutrient we need, except vitamins A and D. Man can survive on potatoes and milk alone! But potatoes with leeks and cabbage are pretty tasty too.

For the leeks, you can cut them a variety of ways, but the least labor-intensive is to slice down the middle lengthwise and then cut up across the stick, making a bunch of little Cs. But these are shorter than the cabbage and potato sticks, so I usually compromise and cut one leek the easy way, and one leek the hard way (into straight sticks, lengthwise.)

The Easy Way

The Hard Way

2 leeks, cut into matchsticks

1/4 cabbage, chopped into matchsticks (around 3 cups after cut)

4-5 medium potatoes with peels, cut into matchsticks (around 3-4 cups after cut)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons (or less) olive oil or oil spray

1. In a large bowl, toss the cut leeks, cabbage, and potatoes to combine. Squeeze firmly 5 or 6 times to slightly wilt them. You may also choose to squeeze them over a colander to drain excess liquid, otherwise, it will pool up in the bottom of the bowl.

2. Add the eggs, flour, salt, and pepper, and mix until well coated. (I’m lazy and just toss the eggs right in, and mix them in with my hands, rather than getting a bowl dirty beating them first.)

3. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and drizzle on enough oil that you can roll it around to coat the bottom of the pan (or spray generously.)

4. Working in batches, drop around 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan, spreading it a bit to be around 4 inches in diameter. Do as many as you can fit into the pan without letting them touch. Cook for around 4 minutes, then squirt or spray a little oil on each one before flipping and cooking for another 4 minutes. They should be tender and a deep golden brown. Or black, depending on whether you’re a crappy cook like me.


Makes approximately 24 Mini Birds Nests.

MOM Tips:

Since sticking around to flip or scoop 3 to 4 “Birds Nests” every 4 minutes can be time-consuming, a large electric griddle or stovetop griddle pan make this go by faster, if you have one!

If you don’t like all the extra stuff in cooking sprays, or don’t have olive oil spray, using a cleaned condiment squeeze bottle is a great way to squirt a bit of oil on the pan between batches, and right before flipping.

Chopping a bajillion thin little veggie sticks and hanging around your stove to be on-call every 4 minutes takes some time, so these are best prepped and made when the kids aren’t hanging on you. (HA! As if!) You can cut these the night before though. Maybe after they’re in bed, and have had their extra story, and oh, yeah, bathroom, and can I have some water please? and are finally asleep.

Make this batch and freeze after you cook them. To use, simply thaw, reheat, and enjoy! Download a Printer-Friendly Version.


Recipes You May Also Like

About Kendra Peterson

Kendra has two daughters on a gluten free, dairy free, and dye free diets. She cooks meals that don't come from a can, boxed or with unidentifiable ingredients. She makes miracles with the random veggies she gets from her CSA box and can be seen pulled over at the park or library feeding her kids food packed in lunch boxes. You can also find her making fun waste-free lunches on her blog, Biting the Hand That Feeds You.