Saturday, 30 January 2010

PPN Baby pasta and adult stew

Finally Sylvia is willing to try more food, though some of it still falls from her mouth to the ground in dislike (and others land her in the emergency dept of the Royal Children's Hospital - nothing a bit of play and sleep couldn't fix - but that is another story). I tried buckwheat pasta a while back and she wasn’t keen. But last weekend she tasted her first wheat pasta and loved it. Her food inspired me in making a stew for our own dinner.

I still expect Sylvia to spit out any new food. I had decided to serve the pasta with pumpkin, which she likes, rather than tomato sauce, which she has never tried. I am trying to introduce her to dairy so decided some ricotta would help her get used to creamy food but I also added a sweetener (literally) in the guise of apple puree. To my surprise she lapped it up, though on the first night I had a good laugh when she would only eat it from E if he fed her by hand rather than using a spoon.

When putting away her baby pasta, I found some macaroni noodles at the back of the pantry. I had a bunch of unused celery that I had bought on special in a whimsical moment. I sometimes want to buy celery but don’t know how to use it as I generally use it frequently but not in large proportions. It is rarely the star of any dishes I make. I decided to use it up in a minestrone-style stew. The results were as pleasing as Sylvia eating her dinner. The celery didn’t overwhelm the stew but it added to the flavour.

I wasn’t going to blog this recipe as it is one of my lazy sorts of meals that I just throw in what is about. Hence my lack of photos. However, I often feel stuck for ideas about using up celery and this was such a good way to use it up that I thought I should have it here to remind me next time I see it on special.

Above is a gratuituous photo of Sylvia at play in the garden. She seems to like food off the floor best of all and I suspect if I told her to just eat the dirt out of the pots she would! I am sending the stew to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast who is hosting this week’s Presto Pasta Night (No. 149).

Sylvia’s first pasta
serves 3 meals to an 11 month old

  • 1 handful of soup pasta or baby pasta (about ¼ - ½ cup)
  • 100g pumpkin, diced small
  • 2 dessertspoons of ricotta
  • 1-2 dessertspoons of apple puree
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped

Cook pumpkin and pasta in boiling water for 10-15 minutes until soft. Drain but reserve water in case you need to thin sauce. Stir in ricotta, apple puree and basil. Add a little water to get a sauce consistency.

Vegetable, lentil and pasta stew
serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 700ml jar of passata or chopped tomatoes (keep jar to measure water)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp stock powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp bush herb mixture or dried mixed herbs
  • 300g pumpkin, diced
  • ½ cup red lentils
  • 2 medium zucchini chopped
  • 250g macaroni noodles
  • 2 dessertspoons of ricotta
  • handful basil chopped

Heat olive oil in a stockpot. Add onion, celery, carrot and potatoes and cook over a medium low heat for 15-20 minutes until they start to soften. Add the passata, garlic, stock powder, cayenne and herbs. Once you have emptied passata into the pot, fill the jar with water and add to pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the carrot and celery is soft. Add the pumpkin, red lentils, zucchini, and macaroni. Again, fill your passata jar with water and add to pot. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until pasta and lentils are cooked and pumpkin is soft. Stir in ricotta. Sprinkle with basil to serve.

On the stereo:
Wonderland soundtrack: Michael Nyman


  1. The mental image of E feeding her by hand is quite something! Why do they always insist that the messy foods are to be hand delivered only? Jacob used to feel that yoghurt was a finger food.

  2. Thank you for the celery idea - I'm so often in the same boat, as I'll buy a bunch of celery, use a stalk or two, then be befuddled as to what to do with the rest of it.

    Usually, I end up making a very, very celery-centric stirfry at some point in the week, during the eating of which we all murmur "oh, celery, that's a nice change", then trail off...

    This looks much nicer! Except, of course, for my mother being allergic to tomatos and wheat. Fiddlesticks.

  3. Thanks Kathleen - what's wrong with a spoon!!! That's what I want to know.

    Thanks Hannah - I would use a gf pasta (buckwheat is my favourite) and perhaps put in more pumpkin but I am sure you can do it without tomatoes and wheat

  4. What a great post. My youngest grandson is just a little over a year old and started enjoying pasta at around 9 months...fists only - no spoons. And he still likes it that way. I love watching little ones experiment with their food...even that screwed up face followed by spitting it on the floor. Seriously, haven't you ever wished you hadn't put something in your mouth?

    Thanks for sharing this with Presto Pasta Nights.

  5. That's a good idea - I'm so used to seeing minestrones and going "yum, okay, impossible", but maybe even pureeing some of the pumpkin as a bit of a thickening agent/passata replacement? Hmmm...

  6. Thanks Ruth - I am sure any grandson of yours would take to pasta like a duck to water:-)

    Thanks Hannah - I was once told that tomato sauce (the ketchup kind) has pumpkin in it - not sure if it is true but makes sense to me

  7. I'm often at a loss for what to do with celery as well, so this is very helpful (though I must admit I really like the sound of Sylvia's pasta--as a dessert!). Hope the little one is okay now!

  8. This is such a cute post! I'm sure Sylvia will come around to pasta since you love it so much. I never know what to do with celery since I don't really like the way it tastes on it's own but it does add such flavor to soups and stews. Thanks for this idea!


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