Top 100 Meals in Minutes: All New Quick and Easy Meals for Babies and Toddlers

Pronto pasta

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SAUCE SUITABLE FOR FREEZING, BUT COOK PASTA FRESH

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

Fresh tomato sauce with sun-dried tomatoes

This is a good sauce to make when you have some tasty ripe tomatoes on hand. Some markets sell oven-dried tomatoes, which would be delicious in the sauce too.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped

Pinch of sugar

1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

8 ounces small penne pasta

4 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), chopped

 To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and simmer for 10 minutes until soft. Then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and sugar. Season to taste.

 Bring to a boil, then sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down. Whiz the sauce with a hand blender until smooth, then add the vinegar.

 Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is tender. Drain, toss with the sauce, and mix in the sun-dried tomatoes.

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SAUCE SUITABLE FOR FREEZING, BUT COOK PASTA FRESH

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

Tomato and mascarpone sauce with penne

This makes a lovely creamy tomato sauce, with the mascarpone stirred in. If you don’t have mascarpone you could use cream cheese instead.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

3 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons ketchup

11/2 teaspoons sugar

8 ounces penne pasta

1/4 cup mascarpone

Salt and pepper

Optional to serve

Parmesan cheese, grated

4 large basil leaves, shredded

 Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and sauté the scallions and garlic for 1 minute. Add all the tomato ingredients plus the sugar, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes until very thick (in a wok it may take slightly longer). Meanwhile, cook the pasta following the package directions.

 Transfer the sauce to a blender, or bowl, and cool slightly, then add the mascarpone and blend in the blender, or with a hand blender, until smooth. Season to taste.

 Reserve a cupful of the cooking water before draining the pasta. Return the pasta to the saucepan and toss with the sauce, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooking water if the pasta becomes too dry. Spoon onto plates and serve with the Parmesan and perhaps some fresh basil, if your child likes it.

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NOT SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

Spaghetti with pesto

If you are making pesto in advance, make it with 7 tablespoons of the oil. Transfer to a container and pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over the surface. This will stop the pesto from turning dark. Store in the fridge for up to one week and stir before using. Pesto also freezes well in airtight containers for up to three months.

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves

1 large garlic clove

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

10 ounces spaghetti

Salt and pepper

 Toast the pine nuts for 2 to 3 minutes in a dry frying pan (or buy toasted pine nuts), then leave to cool.

 Transfer them to a food processor. Add the basil and garlic and whiz until everything is finely chopped. Then pour in the oil through the funnel, with the motor running, until combined.

 Add the Parmesan and season to taste before pulsing 4 to 5 times to combine. Spoon into a bowl.

 Cook the pasta following the package directions. Before draining, reserve a cupful of the cooking water. Mix the pasta with the pesto and add a little cooking water if the pasta gets too dry. Transfer to plates and serve with extra Parmesan.

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NOT SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 4–6 PORTIONS

Pasta primavera

Combining diced vegetables with pasta is a great way to get fussy eaters to have more vegetables in their diet. Simply mix the crème fraîche, broth, and Parmesan to make a quick, tasty, light cheese sauce.

6 ounces fusilli pasta

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 small onion, sliced

1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced (about 3/4 cup)

11/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms

1 garlic clove, crushed

2/3 cup vegetable broth

1/3 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Pinch of salt

 Cook the pasta following the package directions and drain.

 Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add the onion and butternut squash and gently fry for 5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and fry for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute.

 Add the broth to the pan and let it bubble away until it has reduced by half.

 Finally, add the crème fraîche, cheese, and basil, then season with a little salt and toss together with the pasta.

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SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

Spinach and tuna lasagna

To save time, you can use store-bought marinara sauce to make this tasty lasagna. Make sure the top of the lasagna is completely covered with sauce so that the pasta doesn’t burn.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

10 cups fresh spinach, washed

2/3 cup cream cheese

1 (12-ounce) can tuna in water, drained

Salt and pepper

2 cups store-bought marinara sauce

3 large sheets fresh lasagna (about 6 ounces) or 6 small sheets

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and sauté the onion for 5 to 6 minutes, until soft.

 Add the garlic and spinach and sauté 3 to 4 minutes more, until the spinach has thoroughly wilted. If your child is fussy you may want to coarsely chop the spinach and onion mixture in a food processor, then return to the pan.

 Add the cream cheese and stir until melted, then stir in the drained tuna and season to taste.

 Spread a thick layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish (about 8 x 8 inches). Put a layer of lasagna on the sauce (trim the sheets to fit the dish, if necessary), then spread half the tuna mixture on top. Spoon over a quarter of the tomato sauce, spreading it out slightly, then add another layer of pasta, tuna, and a quarter more of the sauce.

 Top with a third layer of pasta and spread with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover with the mozzarella and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

 Bake for 40 minutes until the top is browned and slightly puffed.

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NOT SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

Cheesy chicken pasta with broccoli

For a vegetarian version, double the amount of broccoli and use vegetable instead of chicken broth.

8 ounces pasta shapes, e.g. fusilli

1 cup broccoli florets

2 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot, or 2 small, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

11/4 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cooked chicken breast, shredded (about 4 ounces/11/2 cups)

Salt and pepper

Sweet smoked Spanish paprika (optional)

 Cook the pasta following the package directions, adding the broccoli for the last 3 minutes.

 While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the shallot and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add the flour and stir to make a paste, then whisk in the milk and broth to make a smooth sauce; you may find it easier to do this off the heat.

 Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses and chicken.

 Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pan. Add the sauce and toss to coat, then season to taste. Sweet smoked Spanish paprika, if using, adds a delicious flavor to this dish.

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NOT SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

Spanish paprika chicken pasta

The paprika adds a nice smoky flavor to this dish.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 chicken breast, sliced into small pieces

1/4 cup coarsely chopped chorizo

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

6 ounces pasta shells

3 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

 Heat the oil in a saucepan on low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes. Then add the paprika and chicken and fry for 1 minute.

 Mix in the chorizo, then the tomatoes, tomato paste, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

 Meanwhile, cook the pasta following the package directions, drain, then add to the sauce. Mix and add the mozzarella.

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Macaroni and cheese Images

This is a delicious macaroni, made with three cheeses.

SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 8 PORTIONS

6 ounces macaroni

21/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mascarpone

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

For the topping

1/3 cup bread crumbs (1 slice bread)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Cook the macaroni following the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Heat 2 cups of milk until just boiling.

 Mix the cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 cup milk and whisk into the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil.

 Whisk in the cheeses until melted, then the mascarpone and mustard. Stir in the pasta and season to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle on top. Broil until golden.

Spaghetti carbonara Images

Carbonara is a perennial favorite with kids of all ages.

NOT SUITABLE FOR FREEZING

MAKES 4 PORTIONS

8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced pancetta

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Cook the spaghetti in lightly salted boiling water until al dente.

 Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the pancetta for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned.

 In a bowl, whisk the cream, egg yolks, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan. Immediately stir in the egg and cheese mixture until well combined. Add the pancetta, toss with the sauce, and gently heat through. You can thin the sauce with a little extra cream if necessary. Serve immediately with some Parmesan.