I’m so pleased to have my friend Debbie Koenig guest posting today.

As I mentioned last week, I first met Debbie just about two years ago. I was a brand new blogger at the time, and I was “wowed” by the fact that she was in the process of signing a contract to write her first book.

It’s fitting, therefore, that her book: Parents Need to Eat Too: Nap-Friendly Recipes, One-Handed Meals, and Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents is being released TODAY. It’s such a wonderful book- perfect for new parents, yes…but also perfect for anyone who appreciates accessible writing, humor, and food that’s just plain delicious.

So huge congrats go to Debbie…and take it away!

If you’re a busy parent—especially a new parent—make roasted vegetables your secret weapon. Pop a tray of chopped what-have-you into a 425° oven (while baby’s napping, even), and you’ve got the basis for any number of meals: soup, salad, burritos, pizza, paninis, frittata, pasta, and more.

After my son’s birth, I became the Roasted Vegetable Queen (picture a crown made from zucchini tops and carrot shavings). I’d devote an hour to prepping and roasting, then pack those soft, caramelized nuggets to use during the week. I even stowed batches in the freezer, in case of emergency. My son’s five now, and I still put on that crown regularly.

With a new eater in the house, roasting offers a huge bonus: The technique brings out the natural sweetness in even the funkiest veg, so purees made from them are extra-appealing. Roasting cauliflower, for example, turns an oft-maligned, sulfur-stinky underachiever into a mellow, fragrant hunk o’goodness. Whir up a bit for baby, and toss the rest with whole grain pasta and gussied-up breadcrumbs for you.

Cook once and feed everyone. Now that’s what I call a secret weapon.

Recipe for Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Yield: Serves 4

MAKE BABY FOOD: For babies on purees, you have several options: Just the cauliflower with a splash of water, broth, or milk; all three vegetables with your choice of liquid; or the vegetables plus pasta, with liquid. Any of the above will also work well as finger food. Skip the breadcrumbs for the youngest eaters.

Ingredients:

*1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
*10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
*2 shallots, peeled and halved
*4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
*salt & pepper
*8 ounces whole grain pasta
*2 slices turkey bacon (optional)
*1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
*2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
*1 tablespoon chopped parsley
*2 teaspoons lemon zest
*1 tablespoon lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease or line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Put the cauliflower, garlic, and shallots on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt & pepper to taste, then toss with your hands, keeping the garlic and shallots together on one side of the sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, stirring halfway through.

3. As soon as the cauliflower goes into the oven, put a large pot of salted water on to boil, covered to speed things up. When it boils add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
Once the pasta goes in, put the turkey bacon in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. When it shimmers pour in the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until they darken and smell toasted. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and lemon zest. Crumble in the bacon.

5. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return it to the pot and add the cauliflower. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins into the pot. Roughly chop the shallots and add to the pot. Add all the lemon juice then the reserved cooking water, a little at a time, until it looks moist and saucy.

6. Serve the pasta topped with the breadcrumb mixture.

If you’d like to enter the giveaway for Debbie’s book, please leave a comment on this post.