Most of us parents have been there on the weaning journey. You have started weaning your baby on purees and have got blender-happy in the process, replacing everything in your freezer for a technicolor array of vegetable ice cubes. Every recipe book, website and friend recommends it…and all is going well…until the moment hits when you have ZERO space in your freezer for everything else. “Sorry husband/wife/other child (delete as appropriate), we have no fish fingers in the house because I made a batch of brocolli puree last week and it’s going to last for the next 6 months”…sound familiar?!
There’s no denying that the freezer is your best friend when weaning and feeding babies. You can batch cook pretty much anything, then freeze in individual portions for an instant meal at anytime you need. A quick trip to Ikea to pick up a thousand airlock boxes and you are away. But if you’re anything like me, you may get far too excited pureeing and have a glut in your freezer long after your baby has moved onto foods with more substance.
I had this problem, big time. So I went on a mission to find ways to use up those purees in interesting ways which satisfy my whole household. Turns out we have had some pretty good meals out of those rainbow coloured icy nuggets!
GREENS e.g. peas, brocolli, beans
Summer is here and that means heaps of picnics in our house! We love taking dips with us and most green veggies are perfect to blitz into pesto or spreads which can be used for baby led weaning as well as everyone else. Pea or broad bean puree is delicious whizzed up with garlic, olive oil, parmesan and fresh herbs and served with breadsticks or ciabatta.
You can add brocolli and spinach purees to guacamole for an added nutrient hit, or simply stir it through pasta sauce with some creme fraiche and lemon for an easy dinner.
ROOTS e.g carrot, parsnip, butternut squash
All root veggies are perfect for adding bulk to good old family classics. The most obvious thing would be to add any root puree to your mashed potato to add colour and flavour to shepherds pies and bangers and mash. Carrots are yummy added to Bolognese or even stirred into a risotto. If you have roasted the carrot before pureeing it is delicious in houmous.
Squash is incredibly versatile. I had the most amazing pasta with prawns and a squash sauce on the Amalfi coast a few years ago and have replicated it with my baby puree, just adding a little brandy and cream to the sauce for extra oomph. You obviously don’t have to follow my lead here- just a bit of cream and bacon will work wonders for a midweek meal.
Parsnips can be divisive creatures and a lot of people I know hate them. However, I actually like the taste of parsnip puree and it can be added as a thickener to veggie soups. Celeriac can be treated in the same way, or you could mix the puree with flour, egg and ricotta to make yummy little fritters.
MEDITERRANEAN VEGGIES e.g. peppers, tomatoes, aubergine
I use the term ‘Mediterranean’ loosely as I tend to roast my veggies with olive oil and garlic before blitzing, just to accentuate their sweetness- like they might in Italy. But these are probably the most versatile purees of all- you could add them to pretty much anything.
Tomatoes can be added to bulgar wheat or cous cous while they are cooking to add flavour. Same with peppers, these can also be added to chicken or lamb casseroles. I made a pretty decent Romanesco sauce the other day by whizzing pepper puree with garlic, almonds and olive oil- this can be enjoyed by the whole family with flatbreads or just some barbecued meat or veg.
Aubergine can be made into baba ghanoush just by adding garlic, olive oil and some tahini. Alternatively, make croquetas Spanish style, by mixing the puree with a basic white sauce (and a bit of cheese if you have any lying around) and frying in breadcrumbs. Yum!
FRUIT e.g. Apple and pears
These are infinitely useful as an addition to yogurt and granola for breakfast. But also consider cooking with them- you can wrap almost any fruit puree in filo pastry, add a few berries and bake in little cigarette shapes before dusting with icing sugar- perfect for picnics.
Pears and apricots can be added to chocolate mousse, or if you are feeling creative they can be blobbed onto Bakewell tarts or cakes.
Rhubarb and mixed berries are best kept cold- I am currently working through a glut of berry mush by adding it to whipped cream and yogurt to make a mock-fool. You could add some meringue to it too to take it down the Eton mess route.
Do you have any more ways to use up baby veggies? Do let me know, I’m always looking for inspiration!