Before we got started on the beans though, a significant introduction was made. On Friday morning I decided it was time. Billie could now meet that easy addiction - BREAD. It was also her first foray with wheat. And ever since she has been knocking toast back like it's the best thing since sliced....
Billie has been hankering to feed herself, but despite her capability of placing her spoon in her mouth I don't trust her ability to get much food in there. So, toast soldiers for the teething eager nearly-8-month-old are the perfect new food. As a chaser to her millet porridge the toast sticks keep her happy in her high chair while I prepare my own breakfast.
BACK TO BEANS
After plunging back into the baby books last week I emerged on a mission to put away the blender, stick to the fork, and try to create more meals that Billie could share, as is.
Various parts of Italy produce their versions of MINESTRONE SOUP. Some use rice, some pasta, some kidney beans, some white beans. I tend to leave out the pasta, and for Billie's first experience I opted for the very soft and malleable cannellini beans. I made a great, easy nut-free pesto to stir through.
MINESTRONE WITH PESTO
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, sliced
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
2 courgettes, sliced into chunky rounds
2 potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 pumpkin, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 broccoli head, cut into florets and then stalk cut into small chunks
1.5 litres of water
1 stock cube (I usually use 2 but too salty for baby - up the salt later)
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin cannellini beans
2 T tomato paste (unsalted if possible)
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 T chopped fresh oregano (optional)
1/2-1 cup fresh grated parmesan
PESTO: You can simply stir through fresh chopped basil and fresh grated parmesan, or make some quick pesto. Place a large bunch of basil, 1 cup of grated parmesan, 4 T olive oil, and 2 cloves of garlic into food processor and blend. Add a generous dollop to each bowl of soup before serving. Billie had hers without but that was only because I was still making it when her hunger pangs reached significant levels.
SOUP: Heat oil in large, heavy pot. Saute onion, garlic, celery and then carrots. Add tomatoes and paste, water and stock. Bring to boil and then simmer on low. Add potatoes, then pumpkin, courgette and lastly broccoli. Cook with lid off for about 30 mins, or until vegetables are soft but not falling apart. Meanwhile, make pesto. Add beans and check for seasoning. If serving to baby remove portion before adding any salt. Ladle into bowls and stir through bit of the extra parmesan and then pesto.
A NOTE ON MINESTRONE: Once the vegetables are cooked the soup needs to be served as soon as possible, otherwise they will overcook. It's not one to leave stewing endlessly. This makes quite a large batch so remove what will likely be used tomorrow and only reheat what is needed now.
A great store cupboard staple are canned cannellini beans. A fabulous quick lunch for anyone, but useful for babies, is this easy Cannellini Bean Pate. This is from Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Express, I've just adapted it slightly.
CANNELLINI BEAN PATE
1 can cannellini beans
1 glove garlic
1 T lemon juice
1 T Tahini (sesame seed paste) - optional-
1 T olive oil
1 T chopped fresh oregano
little black pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor, or use a stick hand blender, and process til smooth. After serving to baby, add a little salt to adult portions. Serve as is to baby, with bread or corn chips for adults.
I hope you made it this far, because here is the best recipe I have discovered in ages. Proof it's worth returning to the cook books every now and again for fresh inspiration.
This is slightly adapted from a wee gem of a book, Hot Damn and Hell Yeah. Miles picked it up from a second hand store in Armidale, but it's a self-published American classic by Ryan Splint and Vanessa Johnson.
Burritos are generally made about once a week in our house. But until last night, I hadn't found a way to bring Billie in on the experience. My standard burrito involves chili beans with lots of tomato - so not really Billie's cup of tea yet. But this brilliant meal below is very baby-friendly. (Just the filling and yoghurt - the salsa is adults only and Billie's hands are too small to get around a chunky burrito).
BLACK BEAN AND SWEET POTATO BURRITOS WITH SALSA
Packet of flour tortillas
Bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 T peanut butter (ADD AFTER SERVED TO BABY, unless already on peanuts)
1 tspn cumin
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1 large sweet potato, chopped and steamed
2 cups black beans, cooked and drained - or 2 tins
SALSA:1 can tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 tspn salt
2 T cider or white vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 T chopped jalapeno peppers (for a medium heat)
Soak beans in three times as much water for three hours and then cook for 1 1/4 hours, until soft. Drain and refresh in cold water immediately.
Make salsa. Combine ingredients in heavy pot over medium heat. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer on very low for 45min or until thickened. It tastes even better the next day. Use warm on burritos and then store in fridge.
Burritos: Heat oil in frying pan and saute onion and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add spices. Stir in beans and sweet potato, mashing slightly. (If making for baby, make sure beans are well mashed before adding). Spoon serving out for baby before adding peanut butter, if necessary. Mix well, cooking for a few minutes until combined and heated through.
Heat a small amount of oil in large frying pan and warm tortillas for a minute each side - less once the pan gets really hot. Immediately fill with a generous portion of bean mash, topping with lots of warm salsa, a good dollop of yoghurt and a handful of coriander. Make sure you place all the ingredients in the centre of the tortilla. Fold one side over, followed by each end and then the last side, so you have a contained parcel. Eat.