Cooking for Hugo: Big and Little Dinner
March 20, 2013
There are thrilling developments here in the solid foods department, folks. Hugo can now eat entire fusilli all by himself (I was cutting them into little bite-size pieces until one day he reached out and grabbed a whole one, cramming it in his mouth before I could stop him) and I can slowly start making more and more meals for both the big and little people in this household instead of separate ones.
This doesn't always work - just tonight, Hugo wanted nothing to do with the meal I'd made for us and I ended up having to serve him some of this and that old standby, plain yogurt. But the trend for him to be interested in my food is definitely happening and I love it. Less futzing in the kitchen, less clean-up, and the most adorable companion for my meals.
Here's a simple little dish I made the other day for dinner, just before we flew to Boston. I cut two zucchini into thickish batons. (I know, in February, weird - but hear me out: most of my green grocers here are Turkish and they consistently have the most delicious, firm, fresh little zucchini from Turkey (they're pale green and apparently called Lebanese zucchini) and I can't help but buy them.) I put the zucchini batons in a small roasting pan along with two handfuls of cherry tomatoes. I drizzled everything with a couple spoonfuls of olive oil and sprinkled a small amount of Maldon salt on top. The roasting pan went into the oven until the zucchini were super-tender and the tomatoes were blistering and shriveled. A nice little gravy was forming at the bottom of the pan. I got all goosebumpy when I thought about how the lovely smell in the kitchen, one so deeply familiar to me, was going to be Hugo's smell of home.
In the meantime, I cooked a pot of fusilli (80 grams for me, plus a handful for Hugo) and as soon as they were ready, I dumped the drained pasta into the roasting pan. I stirred around the pasta until the tomatoes broke down and everything was glistening and sauced, grated some Parmigiano on top, set aside Hugo's portion, which I blew on until it cooled, just like a total mom, and then dumped the portion out on the table in front of Hugo. It was the kind of dinner I'd made a hundred, thousand, times for myself, the kind I could make with my eyes closed. No blender needed, no steaming required. What a relief.
And you know, sitting at the dinner table right then, watching my little dude dig in with solemn, concentrated gusto while I got to eat the very same thing next to him, was sort of the best thing ever.
Motherhood, man. Every time I think it can't get any better, it totally does.
What were the first "grown-up" meals you made for you and your child?
Fusilli with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini for Mother and Child
Serves one mother and one baby
2 Lebanese zucchini, firm and fresh
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
2 peeled garlic cloves
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of Maldon salt
80 grams (2.8 ounces) plus 10 individual dried fusilli (or however much you think your baby will eat)
Parmigiano for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Top and tail the zucchini, then cut into 2-inch batons. Put in a small roasting pan. Wash and dry the cherry tomatoes and add to roasting pan, along with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil, sprinkle in the salt to taste and put the roasting pan in the oven until the vegetables are soft and blistered, even starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.
2. In the meantime, bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Cook the fusilli until just past al dente, then drain and immediately transfer the cooked pasta (no dilly-dallying! they'll dry out!) to the roasting pan. Mix well, working quickly. Grate Parmigiano on top and then serve.