Baby food jars. Holy crap. We have been given enough jarred baby food to last through the zombie apocalypse, and then some. Jar, upon jar, upon jar. It’s intense.
Normally, this would be awesome. Except, we chose to embrace our (read: my) crunchy ways and follow the baby-led weaning method of feeding our little piggy. This means no mush, no purees, goop, and no spoons. Just flavor, texture, and fun (messy) times.
We started Brian on solid food at 6 months old, as recommended when following a baby-led weaning method. He started with avocado, banana, sweet potato, and whatever else he felt like stealing directly from my plate. We quickly upped the flavor and introduced him to some of our favorite things: curry, stir fry, frittata, pasta. Here is Brian’s first taste of sushi. Oh, the delicious possibilities!
We weren’t so concerned with allergies and we aren’t afraid of flavor, so we just went for it.
But, I digress. Jarred baby food. What the heck do you do with a ton of jarred baby food? Put it in adult food, of course! I’ve experimented with making banana bread, fruity muffins (with hidden veggies!), omelettes, and cake using the jarred foods. It works pretty well. Usually…
Throw part of a jar of sweet potato or carrots into your eggs the next time you scramble them. Trust me. it makes them kind of puffy and delicious! Jarred banana or apple replaces sugar in a recipe fairly well, which makes it easy to give the kiddo some sugar-free treats, which means I get to let him snack guilt-free. (Mommy guilt. It’s something special. Just wait, I’m sure I’ll post about it soon enough.)
I got down and dirty with the experimentation the other night, though. We wanted gnocchi, but I didn’t have any potatoes. So I thought I’d try sweet potato gnocchi. Oops. No sweet potato either. Earth’s Best to the rescue!! I threw some jarred sweet potato in with flour, popped in some flavor, stirred, kneaded, rolled, cut, and cooked. Easy, peasy. And absolutely delicious. Nobody would even be able to tell I used jars of baby food to make it. And the mini-human and husband devoured it. I call that a win.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
3 (4 ounce) jars of sweet potato baby food (Or you can use real mashed sweet potato, I won’t tell!)
2 to 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
1/4 fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
Nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and pepper to taste
Beat the egg in a large bowl, then add the sweet potato, spices, and cheeses. Mix well.
Add the flour a little at a time to your liquid. You want it to form a soft dough that’s not too sticky. You might not use all of your flour, or you might need more.
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, flour your hands, and grab a chunk of dough. Roll it out like a little play-doh snake, then chop it into little pillows of gnocchi goodness with a pastry cutter or knife. I tend to go for about 1/2 an inch per piece, but it’s all about preference.
If you want the classic gnocchi look, press the gnocchi pillow onto the tines of a fork, then roll it up and off of the fork. This step is not necessary, but it’s fun! Place the finished gnocchi onto a cookie sheet with a dusting of flour or corn meal. Continue until you’ve used up all of the dough.
If you’re not ready to cook it, put it in the fridge. It will last this way for a while but it will dry out so I always try to cook it within 24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, boil a large pot of water with some olive oil and salt, if desired. Drop the gnocchi in, boil them in small batches to make sure they don’t stick. They are done when they float to the top; use a slotted spoon to lift them from the water and drop them into a colander to drain while you finish boiling the rest. Toss with some brown butter or pesto and cheese of choice, serve hot. Yummy.
Try with Kale-Chickpea Pesto for a healthy boost. (Recipe coming soon!)