cooking for kids

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a blog post about cooking for kids. I've been very fortunate that my child has a fairly adventurous palate- because Gary and I certainly do. When I was pregnant with him, I kept eating all of the usual strange and spicy foods I was accustomed to, kept it up when I was nursing, then started introducing them to him when he was ready for solids. A very spicy thai curry risotto was one of his first foods. This particular dish was so spicy that it made my scalp tingle, but he kept asking for more!
Now that my increasingly not-little-boy is in school and surrounded by kids who subsist on a diet of cheese puffs, deli meats, and "froot" products, he's become a little more picky, a little less likely to eat what we want to eat, more aware of what the kids at school want. I think I've told you about his allergy to certain ingredients that find their way into conventional dairy product. I'm pretty strict about organic-only dairy at home or at school, but if we're out and everyone is having pizza, we pull the cheese off of the pizza.

But pizza and chicken nuggets don't make me happy, so I was thrilled to find out about the online cooking group at Raising Foodies. Jocelyn is like the rest of us- working, busy, hungry. And, like me, committed to good food for the family table. She's organized an 8 week cooking group where the participants make a new dish each week and share the recipe with their child's reaction to it.

This Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup is my first "new" reicpe. This weekend I was startled to find ten eggplant in my CSA share. Eight skinny white ones, one medium-sized traditional globe eggplant. Add that to two small striped globe eggplant still in my fridge from the week before. I consulted with some foodie friends and made this delicious honey-salted fried eggplant with two of the skinnies when a friend was over on Sunday.* I also found this recipe for tomato and eggplant soup. We like Indian-spiced food, and this had plenty of curry, so I gave it a try. The instructions looked a bit labor intensive, but it was largely untended. I'll make it again, because it was a hit! And BOTH Gary and Nash are eggplant-deniers.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup, adapted from an adaptation from an Everyday Food recipe. Serves 4 with salad and bread

Preheat oven to 425

6 medium-sized slicing tomatoes (or 14 plum tomatoes), salted, halved
10 garlic cloves
3-4 carrots, peeled, cut in 1" chunks
2T olive oil, kosher salt, pepper

1.5 lb eggplant, peeled, cubed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2T olive oil
2T curry powder

2 Roasting pans

Mix tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and olive oil, s/p on a large roasting pan, with tomatoes skin-side up. Mix the second set of vegetables on the second roasting pan. Roast for 45 min, shaking occasionally, making sure that the tomato tray is on top. Let cool slightly, peel tomatoes.

Puree the tomato mixture and half of the eggplant mixture (in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Thin with 3-4 cups of water or veg broth (I used water). Salt to taste and reheat.

To serve: bed couscous in a soup bowl, ladle soup over the couscous and top with the reserved eggplant and chickpea mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro.

The roasted chickpea and eggplant mixture was so good I could have (and did) eat it by itself. I pureed most of the eggplant to ensure that my boys would eat it. They each got 3-4 cubes on top of their soup.

I'll have this again for lunch today. I may make more and see how it freezes. This was a pretty light meal with a hearty flavor- it felt very substantial.

*It was so, so good, but just a little advice- if you're unaccustomed to fried food, don't eat 15 slices (there were 60 or so super thin potato-chip sized slices) unless you want to spend time with sir alka-seltzer later.