Tag Archives: Tomato

A blog (and tomato) holiday!

We’re off on our jolidays tomorrow to not-so-sunny England and Scotland to go to my big bro’s wedding and visit lots of family and friends. It’s going to be a hectic eleven days away so I’ve decided, after nearly a year of blogging, to take a bit of a break. It’s unfortunately come at a rather hectic time in the garden especially with the tomato harvesting, though I have to admit I’m quite looking forward to getting away from them all. Chez Foti’s felt like a tomato processing plant these last few weeks. It really has been a huge basket of pickings every day, with each and every night spent peeling, chopping, cooking, reducing, souping, saucing, drying, roasting, chutneying…..I could go on!

I’ve decided to continue my tomato ‘Veg of the Month’ on into September as I’ve already got a huge backlog of tomatoey blogs to write and no doubt I’ll be even more inundated with them when we return. I dread to think.

Anyway, here’s hoping I don’t see a tomato for eleven days!  Happy rest of the holidays everyone, here’s a couple of tomatoey photies to be going on with,

Louisa  x

My homemade sun aka ‘oven’ dried tommies. Sublime beyond sublime.

Master Jacques helping me pick the cherry tomatoes


One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Ratatouille

Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?


A Couple of Tomato Tarts

We’ve been having many a tart lately, which has made my husband a very happy man. He likes a nice tart (of the foodie variety obviously). And as it’s tomato season we’ve been using up oodles of cherry tommies on our tarts.

Not exact recipes here, but just throw it all on (in a couple of minutes tops), on bought ready rolled puff pastry (obviously you could make your own if you were so inclined and had more time than me) and bung in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. And voila you have a very tasty little tart for minimum effort. Great served as a main with a large leafy salad on the side, or a tasty wee nibble, appetiser or starter. Good party food too….and great for kids!

Cherry Tomato, Pesto & Goats Cheese Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Pesto  (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

About half a log of goats cheese

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out to size if using a block). Smear a fine layer of pesto over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Cut a few slices of goats cheese and place evenly. Grind over a generous amount of black pepper and drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella & Tapenade Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Tapenade (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

A ball of Mozzarella

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

A little finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out if using a block). Smear a fine layer of tapenade over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Slice the Mozzarella and place evenly. Sprinkle a fine layer of Grana Padano or Parmesan over and a generous grinding of black pepper, drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

If you like this, how about trying my Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta, Cherry Tomato & Mascarpone Tagliatelle, Leek & Goats Cheese Tart, Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta, Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese Pizza, Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza


Garden Pasta

So named ‘Garden Pasta’ as most people who grow anything themselves tend to grow tomatoes and courgettes at the very least, it’s two chief ingredients. A quick and simple pasta dinner using griddled and marinated in lemon and olive oil courgettes, cherry tomatoes, feta and basil, no more complicated than that. We’ve been eating this pretty frequently at Chez Foti lately, it’s a tasty little number that handily makes a dent into some of the enormous glut we’re accumulating!. If you’re not a regular reader courgettes were my ‘Veg of the Month’ in July and this month it’s most definitely the turn of the tomatoes. 64 plants and INUNDATED, cherries, beefs and plums. I need to dump my husband, kids and life in general and dedicate my being to the tomato cause…or battle. Which is also why we seem to be having plenty of quick pasta suppers these days, freeing up a little evening tomato factory time. Here’s the basket I picked this morning, just an average day:

I’m entering my recipe to Ren Behan’s Fabulicious Food August Simple and in Season blog challenge, as you can’t really get much more simple or seasonal than this Garden Pasta supper.

Enough for 2 big people: 

a tablespoon of lemon juice

3 tablespoons of olive oil plus a little extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

salt & pepper

2 courgettes, sliced lengthways into 3mm strips

180g of penne (or any other pasta that takes your fancy), cooked to packet instructions

150g of cherry tomatoes, halved

a handful of basil leaves, torn

80g of feta, crumbled

Combine the lemon juice, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl.

Heat a griddle pan or frying pan to a very high temperature. Dip each courgette strip into the above marinade and griddle or fry in a pan on both sides until cooked through, coloured and soft. Once cooked set aside in another bowl. Once all the strips have been cooked drizzle over any remaining marinade juices.

Cook the pasta to packet instructions whilst you’re griddling the courgettes. Once cooked, drain and put back in the pan and stir through the cherry tomatoes and marinated courgettes. Place back on the heat for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to soften.

Take off the heat and stir through the feta and most of the basil. Retain a few torn leaves for garnish. Taste and add a little more lemon juice, salt and pepper to suit.

Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top and the rest of the basil leaves.

How about trying some of my other tomato or courgette recipes? A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta or Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto.


A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces!

It’s the war of the tomatoes this week (and month) at Chez Foti, there’s a daily battle between myself and the ridiculously extravagant sixty three tomato plants I’ve somehow ended up with (an over exhuberance in seed sowing and a problem number of  self-seeders literally fruiting up all over the plot!). Every day I fill an enormous basket worth (with the help of my two little tomato pickers – see pics below) and use up every minute of available time (which is never all that much with a two and a nearly four year old to entertain too) transforming them into something tasty for the future. An inordinate amount of my time seems to be spent chopping tomatoes. But there’s always a tray full of surplus at the end of the day, and today I now have two trays worth. And we’re only at the beginning of the tomato season. Our new chest freezer’s meanwhile filling up nicely, it arrived last week just in the nick of time. I fear we’ll be ordering another before the end of the summer.

My daily pickings, beef and cherry tomatoes mainly at the minute but the plum tomatoes are just starting too

Today in the Chez Foti Battle of the Tomatoes it was the turn of the pasta sauces, a roasted in the oven with thyme and garlic Cherry Tomato Sauce and a slow cooked on the hob with garlic and plenty of oregano Beef Tomato Sauce. Both are divinely simple but packed full of intense  flavour through slow cooking, good quality olive oil and plenty of fresh from the garden herbs. Great to use just as they are as a pasta or pizza sauce or sublime with a stirring through of a little creme fraiche and/or balsamic, fresh basil or oregano….and then topped with a further drizzle of good quality olive oil (or chili oil) or Parmesan. Happy days! I’ve also used these as a base for a very rich tomato soup or thinned down (with milk and water) as a sauce for meatballs.

My kids adore both these sauces as much as we do, and they make a super quick and healthy pasta supper when short on time. Which is just as well as I now have half a freezer full. I tend to stir a little creme fraiche into the sauce for the littlies making it extra creamy, and I also go easy on the salt content.

Pasta & Tommie Sauce in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls

As a fair whack of my herb garden has been going into these tomato sauces I thought it more than appropriate to enter this post to the lovely Herbs on Saturday blog challenge held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage. There’s always plenty of gorgeous herby recipes to check out each month so keep the page bookmarked!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Thyme and Garlic

About a kilo of cherry tomatoes

Maldon sea salt (or similar)

Freshly ground black pepper

Several sprigs of fresh thyme

6 cloves of garlic (un-peeled)

3 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil

Heat your oven to 160ºC.

Fill an oven tray with whole cherry tomatoes (which is about a kilo, maybe a little more). Sprinkle over a generous pinch or two of black pepper and Maldon (or similar) sea salt. Remove the leaves from some of the thyme sprigs and scatter over, leave some whole. Nuzzle in the whole sprigs and un-peeled garlic cloves where you have space. Drizzle over the olive oil.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the tomatoes are completely soft and collapsing.

Remove the thyme sprigs and garlic. Tip the tomatoes into a food processor or blender, making sure you fully scrape off all the lovely residue and oil from the tray. Squeeze out the goey goodness from each of the garlic cloves into the tomatoes too. Whiz until you have a super smooth sauce. Alternatively tip the tommies and garlic into a bowl and use a stick blender to do the whizzing (my preferred method as there’s less washing up!). Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit.

A Slow Cooked on the Hob Tomato & Fresh Oregano Pasta Sauce

About a kilo of larger than cherry tomatoes, any variety. I used beef as that’s what I have

6 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil

8 cloves of garlic

a teaspoon of sugar

a couple of pinches of Maldon sea salt (or similar)

a couple of generous pinches of freshly ground black pepper

a few sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed. Be generous!

Chop up all your tomatoes to a medium dice. I tend to use the skin and seeds but not everyone likes to, so remove if you wish.

Heat the oil in a very large saucepan or stock pot on a lowish heat. Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes and at the point when it’s just starting to take on some colour tip the tomatoes into the pan. It’s important not to burn the garlic or this will taint the sauce.

Stir in the pepper, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Once simmering turn the temperature down to the lowest setting and allow to bubble away for about an hour until much reduced and considerably thickened. Half way through the cooking time stir in the oregano leaves.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before whizzing up in a processor or blender, or a stick blender straight into the pan, until you have a super smooth sauce. Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit.

My two little tomato picker helpers having fun

A touch of tomato balancing envy!


Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

The first of my Tomato ‘Veg of the Month‘ recipes. I’m growing cherries, plums and beefies this year…and at today’s count I’ve 63 plants (I keep finding random self-seeded plants around the patch, as if I need any more!), which admittedly is an awful lot for a family of four. So you can expect an awful lot of tomatoey recipes over the next few weeks. And today’s it’s the turn of the super-sweet Cherry Tomatoes.

This is a real quickie of a mid-week supper that we’ve had a couple of times in the last week. I love a tasty simple pasta sauce that can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta in, and this is no exception.

Enough for a family of 4:

250g of tagliatelle

just over a tablespoon of olive oil

3 small shallots, finely diced

425g of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons of mascarpone

a pinch each of salt, pepper & sugar

a handful of torn basil leaves

Cook the pasta in boiling water to packet instructions.

Whilst the pasta’s cooking heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan, add the shallots and saute over a gentle heat for 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook for a minute or two. When they start to soften stir in the mascarpone and a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a gentle bubbling then take off the heat. Stir in most of the basil, retaining a few pieces to go on the top.

Combine the tagliatelle with the sauce and serve with a scattering of basil over the top.

Job done. Told you it was a quickie. Off to pick some more tomatoes.


Super Vegged-Up Chilli

Toddlers & Young Children, Big Kids, Grown Ups.

I haven’t made a Chilli con Carne in ages and thought it was about time. I usually make mine with big chunks of braising beef marinaded in cumin, coriander, chilli and cinnamon following one of my favourite ever Leon recipes (The Best Chilli con Carne ever!). But this time I thought I’d go a bit more 80s retro and make something more suitable for the wee ones using good quality mince but with a super-vegging Chez Foti overthrow!. These days I seem unable to make too much without throwing in a barrage of veg, as you’ve probably noticed. As my son becomes increasingly fussy about eating his plain veggies I’m becoming increasingly cunning in my vegged up disguises! Ha, you will eat your 5-a-day my boy.

As for your choice of veggies, you can pretty much add anything you happen to have in, though I like to go with tradition on the carrots and pepper. I threw in some frozen chopped french beans (I’m trying to clear out the freezer before this year’s glut starts) and a couple of large handfuls of swiss chard from the garden. If cooking for kids go easy on the chilli. I use just ½ a teaspoon of hot chilli powder, though personally I’d like a little more heat so feel free to bump it up if you’re a chilli fiend.

Use good quality lean beef mince here, preferably some that you’ve seen the butcher mince in front of you. It really does make a difference.

This makes quite a vat of chilli, but keeps very well in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen. The first night we ate it with rice and the second in wraps with grated cheese, sour cream, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and avocados (again very 80s retro tex-mex, but nevertheless pretty darned tasty!).

Enough for 4 to 6 grown up folk, depending on greed!. Or two family dinners. 

3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely diced

a red pepper, diced

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

½ to 2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder (depending on who you’re cooking for!)

500g of good quality lean minced beef

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons of cocoa powder

a handful of french beans or any other veg you so happen to have in

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

a couple of very large handfuls of spinach or chard, finely shredded

Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Throw in the onions, garlic, carrots and pepper (or any other hard veg you want to use) and cook for about ten minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, chilli powder, salt & pepper and cook for a couple of minutes whilst continuously stirring. Add the beef and allow to brown, stirring every now and again.

Once the beef’s browned stir in the chopped tomatoes, cocoa powder and any softer veggies you’re using, in my case the french beans (but not the spinach or chard which is added later).

Cover and allow to gently bubble away on a very low heat for at least an hour adding a little water if it looks like it’s drying out. Now throw in the final ingredients of the kidney beans and spinach or chard and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit (though no additional salt if making for littlies).

How about trying some of my other super vegged-up recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Lou’s Chicken Fried Rice, Noodles with Pork & Veggies, Cream of Veggie Super Soup or my Chicken & Apricot Tagine

Ha, the boy happily eating his veggies!


Bejeweled Eggs!

8 months +, toddlers & young children

As part of my series of baby and toddler foods, in conjunction with Oogaa silicone feeding products, here’s a perfect recipe for introducing your baby to soft lumps in his or her food. Plain scrambled eggs were one of the first foods my two really loved and devoured, and as they grew accustomed to little lumps I started scrambling the eggs with an assortment of finely diced veggies and a little cheese and they probably loved my ‘bejeweled’ eggs even more than the plain scrambled. And it’s still a firm favourite today as a quick and easy no brainer supper served with little slices of wholemeal toast and butter on the side.

For very little ones dice the veggies as finely as you can, increasing the size as they get older and more accustomed to lumps and bumps. Stick to veggies that will soften well on cooking for the very wee ones, like mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, courgette (or diced pre-cooked veggies like broccoli and carrots) etc. Slightly older babies and toddlers love it with sweetcorn and peas, as indeed I made mine with today, but these are slightly harder to break down and digest in tiny tums.

Eggs are a wonderful food for babies and young children, providing an important protein source and packed full of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, various Bs, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Cheese is also an important source of calcium and protein.

Enough for one large portion, double if Mum wants to eat too!

5g of butter

a slice of onion, very finely diced (about a 1⁄16th of a small onion)

a fine slice of red pepper, very finely diced (about a 1⁄16th of a whole pepper)

10g of sweetcorn, fresh, canned or frozen (replace with finely diced courgette, mushroom, or pre-cooked carrot or broccoli if your baby is very little)

10g of fresh or frozen peas (replace with finely diced courgette, mushroom, or pre-cooked carrot or broccoli if your baby is very little)

a slice of tomato, very finely diced (about an 1/8th of a whole tomato)

a free range egg, beaten

a teeny weeny ultra fine grinding of black pepper

10g of a mild hard cheese (like cheddar), grated

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes until soft, stirring regularly. Stir in the peas, sweetcorn and tomato and cook for a further 2 minutes. If the pan becomes dry add a splash of water.

Stir in the beaten egg, very finely ground black pepper and grated cheese. Continue to stir until the egg is cooked through. Allow to cool for a few moments then serve.

Have you tried my other baby recipes? How about the ever so tasty Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers, Baby Pasta & Purees, Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice or Kid’s Bolognese?


Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of pot roasting chicken, not only to avoid using our worse than awful gas oven, but it’s a fabulously succulent way to cook a chicken (or indeed any meat), particularly for slightly older-than-supermarket birds as ours was.

I made this a few days ago for our Sunday lunch when I was trying to think up something a little bit different and special to do with the first of our chicken brood to hit the pot, so to speak. She was a lovely lady though sadly went a bit lame. Luckily for us our kind neighbour down the  road offered to do the deadly deed and we were spared it this first time. I’m sure next time we’ll have to get involved and eventually it’ll be Phil or I bearing the knife. Something I’m wholeheartedly not looking forward to.

Sad to say but she turned into a great dinner and was very much appreciated and enjoyed by all. Slow cooked in a pan on the hob in lots of white wine, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette and peppers and flavoured with one of my favourite spices, sweet smoked paprika, and then served on a bed of fluffy couscous. Even better that there were lots of saucy and chickeny leftovers for the next day which made for a fabulous pasta sauce.

Enough for a family of 4, with plenty of leftovers for the next day:

a medium to large chicken, about 1.5 to 2 kgs

salt & pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large onion, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

2 teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika

500ml of white wine

200ml of water

2 x 400g cans of good quality chopped tomatoes

a heaped tablespoon of tomato puree

3 sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

a red pepper

a green pepper

a medium aubergine

a large courgette

100g of stones green olives

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large deep casserole or saucepan, one big enough to easily hold the chicken and that has a lid, on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the garlic, onion and celery in the same pan and saute on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.  Stir in the paprika and allow to cook for a minute, whilst continuing to stir. Pour in the wine, water and chopped tomatoes, and add the tomato puree, thyme, bay leaves and a generous grinding of black pepper. Place the chicken back in the pot and bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Allow to bubble away for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the other veggies. Slice the peppers into strips by slicing each pepper in half lengthways, then each half into quarters lengthways and each of those into 3 or 4 narrow strips. Dice the aubergine into about 1.5 cm pieces. Cut the courgette into 4 quarters lengthways and dice each of the quarters into 0.5 to 1cm pieces.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a low heat in a large frying pan or saucepan. Once hot add the peppers and aubergine. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Once the chicken has been simmering for 45 minutes stir in the cooked veggies and the olives. Cover and cook for a further 45 minutes. The chicken should easily fall off the bone, if it doesn’t cook for a little longer.

Have a taste check adding more salt and pepper to the sauce to suit. Stir in the chopped parsley. Carve the chicken and serve with a generous ladleful of the Mediterranean veggies over the top. It’s great served on a bed of couscous.


Two Baby Pasta & Puree Recipes!

7-9 months +

Here’s a couple of colourful first pasta sauce/purée recipes which are perfect for babies moving on from puréed food to the world of soft lumps. The sauces are puréed and mixed with the smallest pasta you can find, teeny weeny pasta stars are ideal and easily available at most larger supermarkets or pharmacies selling baby products. They’re a brilliant introduction to pasta and most babies love their very soft texture.

My first recipe is for a super-nutritious super-green Avocado, Spinach & Cream Cheese Sauce which my kids simply adored! Avocado’s are a wonderful source of potassium and vitamins B, E and K, and spinach is a popeye-tastic source of iron, antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E and K.

It actually makes a fab purée in it’s own right without the pasta for the really little littlies, or a great sandwich filling, toast topping or finger food dip for the bigger babs. I’m also pretty partial to it myself! Unlike most baby foods this isn’t a recipe you can make in larger quantities and store as the avocado blackens pretty quickly over time.

Makes enough for 2 portions:
30g of frozen spinach, defrosted (or a handful of fresh spinach leaves washed, shredded and steamed in a little water in a microwave for a couple of minutes)
½ a small avocado, skin and stone removed, cut into a large dice
25g of full fat cream cheese
a tiny pinch of very finely ground black pepper
30g of baby pasta (stars are perfect if you can source)

Cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water to packet instructions, pasta stars take about 6 minutes. I tend to ever so slightly over cook the pasta when first weaning babies on to lumps.

Put all the other ingredients together and blend to a super smooth purée (using a stick blender, Baby Bullet or processor).
Stir the hot pasta into the purée and serve!

My second recipe is for a gorgeously Creamy Tomato Sauce. Tomatoes are a great antioxidant and supplier of vitamins A and C. Being a bit of a garlic fiend I like to add a little to a babies diet very early on. Babies love lots of flavour, not that you would guess this from the multitude of disgustingly bland jarred baby foods that are sadly for sale. You can make this sauce in larger quantities and happily refrigerate or freeze.

makes enough for 5-6 portions:
2 tomatoes
a desert spoon of olive oil
½ a clove of garlic
1⁄6th of a small onion
a tiny pinch of very finely ground black pepper
80g of baby pasta
40g of full fat cream cheese

Start by removing the skin from the tomatoes (which may be hard to digest for little tums). You can do this by emerging the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for a couple of minutes, this softens the skins and makes them easily peelable. Once peeled finely dice.

Finely chop the garlic and onion. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a very low heat and add the garlic and onion. Stirring regularly cook for 3 minutes until softened.

Stir in the tomatoes and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook on a very gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water to packet instructions, pasta stars take about 6 minutes. I tend to ever so slightly over cook the pasta when first weaning babies on to lumps.

After the tomatoes have cooked for 10 minutes remove from the heat, stir in the cream cheese and blend to a super smooth purée (using a stick blender, Baby Bullet or processor).

Combine the pasta with the sauce and serve!

Here’s my baby (he’s nearly two!) still enjoying my creamy tomato sauce:


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