12 September 2012

Baby Bites: Broccoli and Pasta with Lentils

With a little shredded cheddar cheese on top!

We would never survive a low-carb diet in this house. We have pasta at least once a week. I could totally buy into the idea of living in a rustic Italian village where we could eat fresh handmade pasta at every meal. So why wouldn't we make pasta dishes for our little one? Here's a meal I made up for Baby Nerd, and she loves it. It's great as a stand-alone meal, but it compliments other main dishes, like fish or chicken.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup chicken broth cut with water (lowers the sodium while adding flavor)
  • roughly 1/3 cup dried lentils, any color
  • half of a bag of frozen broccoli florets
  • leftover pasta (I had 3 strips of leftover cooked lasagna that I cut up into bite-sized pieces)
  • shredded cheese (totally optional, especially if your baby is lactose intolerant...I used cheddar, but any hard, salty cheese would be ideal)
Directions:
Bring the broth to a boil and add the lentils. Allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have begun to soften. Add the frozen broccoli and cook for another 10 minutes. Broccoli should be super soft. Finally, throw in the already-cooked pasta and mix. If there is any broth-water left in your pot, drain it. Portion the mix into 2- or 4-oz. containers and sprinkle a little of the shredded cheese on top in each container. Store in the fridge up to 3 days and in the freezer up to 3 months.

Also, if you don't have any leftover pasta like I did for this recipe, just boil 1/3-1/4 cup of any bite-sized pasta (wagon wheels, elbows, mini farfalle, ditalini) in a separate pot while the lentils soften. Add at the end just as directed above.
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Let me talk about cheese for a sec. For as much as we love pasta, we love cheese twice as much. This means after we live in Italy and eat pasta until we barf, we'll take up residence in random cheese cellars across Europe. So here's my plea: only use REAL cheese. No liquid cheese, no American singles, and for the love of brie, nothing that can be dispensed from a nozzle (I shudder at the thought of Cheese Whiz). I'm not saying you have to start your baby out on Limburger or a veiny stilton. So for this dish, just stick to cheeses that are made from real and natural ingredients. Baby Nerd has tried and loved parmesan, cheddar, colby, ricotta, and mozzarella so far.

Dang it. All this talk of cheese and pasta has me wanting a hefty helping of manicotti. Maybe I'll try that one next. ;)



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