The Cooking for Beansprout series is back this week with a couple of pasta recipes fit for hungry babes and toddlers (and their parents, of course). If you are just joining in, check out Part 1 and 2 of the Beansprout series, where I talked about baby-led weaning (i.e. what the heck is it?) and shared a few baby-led weaning recipes for our favourite meat patties, sliders and meatballs.
Today I’m talking about pasta, pasta, pasta!
Pasta is a fan favourite in our house, and a great food for baby-led weaning and beginner eaters. It’s an ideal finger food, for one thing—babes can easily pick up and gum small shaped pasta like fusilli, rotini, penne and macaroni. But it’s also a perfect little carrier for healthy veggie-packed sauces and purees. What’s more, thanks to some awesome food innovators there is now an incredible variety of pasta on the market—from whole wheat to ancient wheat-like grains (kamut and spelt, for instance), bean, lentil, buckwheat, quinoa and rice. We are particularly smitten with the bean and lentil varieties right now: in addition to being totally wheat-free (which we need, unfortunately), they pack an impressive punch of fibre, iron and other good-for-ya stuff, without any compromise on flavour or texture.
You can share just about any of your favourite pasta recipes with baby, minus the super salty or spicy ones maybe. I like these two in particular, because they are simple to make and packed with vegetables:
Spaghetti with Avocado Spinach Pesto (aka “Monsterghetti”)
I will never understand why it is that monster associations make green food more appetizing to small people. But it works in our house, so I run with it. Both the Bean and the Beansprout go nuts for this blend of garlic, spinach, avocado, basil and lemon juice. Kiwi and I love it, too, but we add a sprinkle of salt and a generous turn of the pepper grinder, and drop the Monster moniker. I adapted this recipe from the great vegan cookbook Oh She Glows, by Angela Liddon.
To make it: in a food processor, purée one garlic clove, a small handful of fresh basil, the flesh of a ripe avocado, a large handful of fresh baby spinach, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 4 teaspoons lemon juice, and as much water as you need to thin it to a nice consistency. Toss with hot cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional). To serve the pasta to baby, use sharp kitchen scissors or a small knife to chop the cooked spaghetti into 1-inch segments.
Pasta with Hidden Veggie Bolognese
Don’t let the first year of your babe’s life go by without capturing the obligatory baby-covered-in-bolognese photograph!
My go-to meat sauce these days is this Crouching Turkey, Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce. It’s chock full of veggies, which makes it more nutritious and more flavourful (I promise) than a standard issue bolognese. I freeze small portions of leftover sauce in snack sized zipper bags or glass containers, so I can pull it out for super-quick kid lunches or dinners.
I would LOVE to hear from you (in the comments below): are you finding these recipes helpful (whether for baby-led weaning or otherwise)? And if yes, what other recipes would you like me to post? Breakfast ideas? Veggie ideas? Rice and grain ideas?