Nikki Duffy's Roasted Veg Sauce
This pasta sauce was first cooked up with reluctant veg-eaters in mind; it’s delicious - and you can use all sorts of different vegetables. Stick with the squash, making sure it’s about half the volume of roasted veg, and keep in the sweet garlic, but try it with more carrots instead of the fennel, or other roots such as parsnip or beetroot, maybe a few fat, juicy tomatoes (skinned before puréeing), or even cauliflower. You could also throw in some separately roasted red peppers (skinned) at the end.
For babies: Combine the sauce with the tiny past shapes for spoon-feeding. For baby-led weaning, cook large pasta pieces that your baby can hold. They might prefer the sauce served separately rather than mixed in.
For grown-ups and older children: This is scrumptious with some blue cheese or diced, fried chorizo tossed in before serving.
3-4 adult servings
½ butternut squash, or other squash (about 500g)
1 fennel bulb
1 large carrot
3-4 fat garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
150-200ml hot chicken, vegetable stock or hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt (optional)
Freshly cooked pasta
Grated hard cheese
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Cut the squash half in half again and scoop out the seeds. Lay, skin side down=, at one end of a large roasting tray. Trim, core and roughly slice the fennel and add to the tray. Peel and slice the carrot and add this too, along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Trickle a little oil over the whole lot, and give the chopped-up veg a bit of a stir. Roast for 45-55 minutes, or until everything is very tender and starting to caramelise, giving the chopped veg a stir about halfway through; cover with foil if everything seems to be browning too fast.
Scoop the flesh away from the squash skin and put into a blender with the roasted fennel and carrot. Squeeze the soft garlic cloves from their skins, and add these too. Pour in about 150ml hot stock, or milk, and blend to a thick, smooth purée. Add more stock or milk if needed and season if you like. Reheat if necessary, then serve – tossed into hot pasta, with plenty of grated cheese to sprinkle on top.
© From “River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook”, published May 2011 (Bloomsbury Publishing)