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The Welcome Wagon: Summer Squash and Chickpeas with Gemelli Pasta

July 18, 2012

Well, my best friend Fee welcomed number #2, IEL, into the world last month. We were so sad to be out of the country when the big event occurred, but we had a great visit the other day.

As many people have heard, the mid-Atlantic region went through a rather strange series of weather events as of late, which rendered the region powerless. Literally. With a newborn, this complicated life a bit more for Fee and her family. To top it off, she had to throw out dozens of prepared meals kind friends and family had helped fill her freezer. Since I couldn’t help her when IEL arrived, I was so happy that I could cook up a storm to replace the arsenal.

Making a meal for parents who welcome a new arrival, from newborn to adoptive, is a wonderful way to take one less thing for them to worry about. Usually, I ask the parents if there are any allergies, and if the mother is breastfeeding, if there is anything the baby seems to be rejecting. Typical foods in this department include, beans, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and dairy. It seems IEL had no real responses to foods yet, so I picked the dishes below. If she does develop an intolerance to a food, I tried to make sure each meal did not include one of the trigger ingredients.

First, I made my spinach lasagna. This is an easy dish for them to pull out if they have guests or families over. The recipe makes two lasagnas, and I separated them into smaller containers, so they can cover two nights. It is delicious, and I highly recommend making it and putting a tray in your own freezer for a busy night. Click here for the recipe.

Next, I prepared two vats of Ravioli soup, based off this recipe, one with cheese ravioletti and the other with mushroom ravioli. I added basil, minced dried onion, and fresh peas to it for another veggie. We also gave them a baguette. Harris Teeter sells a type that you heat in the oven for 8 minutes at 400 degrees, and it finishes cooking the bread to be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The combo of bread and soup can be a great comfort food, especially when you might be exhausted from a new little squirt in the house.

Finally, I used the fresh seasonal veggies for a Summer Squash and Chickpeas with Gemelli pasta. I included the recipe below. The only thing is that I didn’t cook the pasta, instead I gave her the box. Frozen cooked pasta, that is not in a soup or a lasagna, just doesn’t taste as good as the real thing. Gemelli has a wonderful and unique texture, that is pretty hardy, but if overcooked gets lost. AAM also pointed out that boiling water is simple, but having the time to chop and roast can feel monumental when you are exhausted.

We added appetizers and desserts to the delivery: nice cheese with crackers, a box of girl scout cookies, and a watermelon. I remember in the early days of Serafina, I just wanted something I could grab to eat in the few moments of quiet. A new parent could really appreciate some nice snacks!

Then, as we arrived at their house, we brought Chipotle for that nights dinner. I did not want to bring food, then eat it. Remember, even picking up take out can be a huge hassle for a parent of a toddler and an infant. Little Serafina and Elaine squealed with delight at their food. Then, they spent a few hours running around the house together. It is so neat to see them actually play together, and very well. That they enjoy each other’s company and have similar senses of humor, might not be a surprise to those who are close to us, but it is so wonderful to just watch them. Of course, they gave mild acknowledgment of the baby in the room, but she just wasn’t as exciting as the two balloons.

As we left, I was just glad we could help Fee a little. In the early days of having Serafina, when no one had delivered us meals and it seemed like people were trying to leave us alone just a little too much, she stormed through the house with a weeks worth of dinners. When I think about our friendship, it is one of those moments, where she read my mind and I never had to ask, that I realize our 15 years of friendship has made her more like a sister than a best friend. After hearing they lost their entire fridge of food due to the outage, it was wonderful to realize I could return the gift.

Summer Squash and Chickpeas with Gemelli Pasta

  • 1 Zucchini, diced
  • 1 Yellow squash, diced
  • 2 Red peppers, diced
  • 1 yellow/orange pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of onion, diced
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/4 cup of lemon infused olive oil (or squeeze one lemon with the olive oil)
  • 1 tb sea salt
  • 1 tb freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2. On a baking dish or aluminum pan, lay some aluminum foil. Add the peppers, squash, onion, oil, salt and pepper. Stir together. Close the foil, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, boil water. Cook the Gemelli pasta for 12 minutes, until al dente.

4. When the veggies are done, toss in the chickpeas and pasta. Toss. If necessary, add a little more olive oil to help the sauce.

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