I’m getting to learn all about food again as my 7-month-old son is dabbling in it. He’s really not into eating and much prefers playing with the spoon over putting anything in his mouth, but we’re trying.
Doctors tell you to start with one food each week, like pureed vegetables, and increase from there. That solitary introduction advice is so that you can isolate any reactions the babies have. But we quickly moved beyond mashed avocado or peas – which for the record, nobody likes at any age, prepared in any way – and now I’m just putting stuff in front of him to see what he’ll take.
On top of that list are sweet potatoes, which apparently most kids enjoy. I’ve been buying them raw, peeling them, boiling and then pureeing. But in a jam a couple of weeks ago, I grabbed a can of organic sweet potatoes from the store hoping to save some time. His daycare teachers told me that he inhaled them, which at first delighted me.
I bought another can, excited that he was finally super into something. But after checking the ingredients, the secret was revealed: Almost 20 grams of added sugar! Everything that has added sugar should explicitly say it on the label, but then, everything would have that label. The sweet potatoes were actually extra sweet, and he hasn’t gotten them again; back to the homemade puree.
Which leads me to the below recipe. All this pureeing and parenting has left less time for the joy of cooking. Easy meals are my go-to right now, and I keep coming back to this Greek salad and falafel dinner. It’s easy to prep a lot of it for several meals or serve to a bigger group. It’s so simple that it almost doesn’t need a recipe.
Here’s to hoping the baby starts liking lettuce soon.
Greek Salad & Falafel
1 red onion
2 bell peppers (red and orange for colorful effect)
1 package of cherry tomatoes
1 jar of pitted kalamata olives
Spring lettuce mix
1 package of naan bread
Tzatziki sauce* (can be bought to simplify, or use recipe below)
To make falafel, combine dry mix with water (directions on the box). Cook in sauté pan on medium heat in cooking oil for 3 to 4 minutes each side. Flattening them like pancakes is the trick to getting them to cook through. Chop onion, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and olives into bite-size pieces. Combine with lettuce and feta, then dress with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.
Toast or bake naan bread for 4 to 5 minutes. Spread tzatziki sauce on naan bread. Place falafel and salad on top to make an open-faced sandwich.
1 European cucumber or 3 Persian cucumbers, finely chopped or grated
2 cups drained yogurt
2 to 3 garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed, and mashed to a paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground pepper
Toss the cucumber with a generous amount of salt and leave in a colander in the sink to wilt for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse and drain on paper towels. Beat together the yogurt, garlic, mint, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil. Stir in the cucumbers. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Christine Benedetti writes about food here every other week. Mostly the plant kind. She’s editor-in-chief of Aspen magazine, but you can reach her @cabenedetti.