Annabel Karmel's Top 100 Pasta Dishes

If Benjamin Spock is the god of child rearing, then Annabel Karmel is the goddess of child eating. My sister bought her First Meals cookbook when her son was born in 2000, and I loved it so much I bought a copy of my own when The Pea was born a year later. I was amazed at how easy it was to turn fresh fruits and vegetables into baby food instead of buying jarred baby food. First Meals became my food bible during The Pea's and the twins' first year.

Annabel Karmel has been an authority on nutrition and cooking for children in the UK since 1991, and it's great to see that she is gaining in popularity here in the US. I was sent a copy of one of her books, Top 100 Pasta Dishes, to review, and the whole family has been enjoying Annabel's pasta recipes for dinner.

About the Book
Pasta is a safe and easy solid food to begin feeding babies, and offers a great backdrop for introducing toddlers to new meats and vegetables. But best of all - parents will actually want to eat these recipes too! With Annabel's help, there's no longer a need to make separate dinners for you and the kids. With tasty, nutritious, quick, and economical recipes, Top 100 Pasta Dishes makes the perfect addition to any family’s mealtime rotation. Here’s how:
  • Feeding your fussy eaters: Even the fussiest of eaters absolutley love pasta.
  • Concealing vegetables: With Annabel’s colorful and tasty dishes, kids won’t even know they are eating “yucky” vegetables.
  • One family, One Meal: Mom, Dad, baby and teen can all eat and enjoy the same meal. No last-minute mac and cheese or take-out necessary.
  • Easy recipes for busy nights: Flip through the book on school nights and find a 30 minute meal at your finger tips.
  • Save money: With ingredients like bowtie pasta, sweet potato and brown suagar, these recipes will not break the bank.

The Bongga
Here's what I liked best about the book:
  • Annabel doesn't just focus on the usual Italian-inspired pasta dishes like lasagna or bolognese. This book also has Asian-inspired dishes like Chicken pad thai, Singapore noodles, terikyaki salmon and soba noodles, and spaghetti with mild curried-chicken sauce. I tried making the Chicken Pad Thai, and it is delicious!
  • Each recipe indicates whether it is suitable for freezing, so you can plan to make an extra batch and freeze it for later. I never would have thought a creamy sauce would be suitable for freezing, but I made and froze Annabel's Turkey Pasta Bake with Creamy Parmesan and Tomato Sauce for the rest of the family to eat while I was away at BlogHer and it was a great success. Alfie reheated the dish and served it to the kids without a hitch, and they loved it!
  • Each recipe incorporates some kind of vegetable (sometimes it's "hidden", or pureed into the sauce) so kids get a well-balanced meal and learn to like their veggies.
  • Her recipes are on the mild side, so picky eaters can gradually be introduced to the more sophisticated flavors. I over the moon when all three of my kids ate Annabel's Lentil Pasta Soup!

The Blah
Here are some things I didn't like about the book:

  • Some ingredients were surprisingly difficult to find. I searched in three different grocery stores, but have yet to find no-preboil cannoli tubes. More ingredient substitution ideas would have been nice.
  • I wish there were more vegetarian recipes.
  • I like the idea of pasta-based dessert dishes -- it's interesting and kids are likely to love it -- but there was only one of those, Grandma's noodle pudding, and it did not go well with anyone in my family at all.

The Bottom Line
Filled with delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes that kids love, this cookbook belongs in any family's cookbook collection!

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Information is provided by the publisher and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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