Weeknight Cooking

Carrots Cooked Forever

September 14, 2012

Merrill's baby Clara is finally old enough to eat solid foods. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, Merrill steps into the fray.

This week, she makes a plan and gives Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever a run for its money.


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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first eight months of child-rearing, it’s this: as a new parent, it is nearly impossible to avoid receiving a lot more advice than you actually need or want on all topics related to the raising of children.

We’re nearly two months into feeding Clara solid food, and as we’ve talked to more and more people about what she’s eating (and how much, and how often), the list of Don’ts has ballooned to epic proportions: no eggs, no meat, no wheat, no tuna or swordfish or shellfish, nothing spicy, no nuts, no salt, no added sugar. Yikes.

It's hard not to listen to all of it, not to let yourself be buffeted by the winds of other people's personal biases and anxieties. When we find ourselves starting to panic about gluten allergies or mercury poisoning, we invariably return to the grounding advice of our beloved pediatrician, given to us when Clara was six months old. (By then, she had already sprouted two little Bugs Bunny teeth and was utterly transfixed by the sight of us eating, an elastic ribbon of drool slowly stretching from her mouth to her chest as she followed our every bite.)

Dr. Rivendren said It Was Time, and then she shared her simple rules: Wait three days before introducing the next new thing, and avoid honey and cow’s milk until at least a year. With a few exceptions (the most notable involving a bad reaction to pork and ending similarly to the pie-eating scene in Stand By Me), we've managed to chill out and let ourselves be guided by these rules.

When Clara was born, I felt like I had ages to plan her first meal, to come up with a long-term strategy. But then six months had passed, and I didn’t have a plan. What I did have was a bounty of late spring/early summer produce. So I went to the farmers market, chucked some great looking vegetables into my bag and headed home to cook. Aiming for softness without the blender (more on that in my next post), I cooked any and all resistance out of English peas, tender new carrots, and smooth, unblemished green beans, mushing them gently before feeding them to Clara. I baked sweet potatoes in foil and steamed young, unblemished summer squash not much bigger than my index finger. Clara loved it all.

A few weeks later, I noticed broccoli at the market for the first time. A pile of plump, white garlic hovered nearby. I remembered Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever. I had drizzled olive oil over the sweet potatoes last week, so that didn't count as a new food, and I'd just leave out the anchovies and pepper flakes (for now). I could get away with two new foods at once, right? It was just broccoli and garlic, after all.

I'm happy to report that Broccoli Cooked Forever was a hit. What's more, Finamore's is a method -- lots of olive oil and garlic, paired with long, slow cooking -- that works magic on pretty much all vegetables. One of our collective favorites is carrots. The garlic and carrots melt sweetly together, slicked with olive oil, so that you get the sense you're eating candy. The best part? You can make a big batch, eat half with your dinner and then mash up the rest to feed the baby.

Here's how you do it:


Peel the carrots and slice them into rounds. Smash some garlic.

 Carrots and Oil Cooked Carrots

Add olive oil, the carrots and garlic and some salt to the pot. Cook forever.

 Carrots in a sieve Pureed carrots

Once the carrots are tender, put some aside for yourself. Then, press the rest through a sieve or a food mill to get them smooth (best for babies just starting to eat solid food).

 Mashed carrots Two carrots

For a little more texture, gently mash the carrots. (Check out the different results from these two methods on the right.) Time to feed the baby!

Carrots Cooked Forever

Carrots Cooked Forever
Inspired by Roy Finamore’s Broccoli Cooked Forever

Serves 8 adults as a side dish, baby for about a week

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom (except for the photo of Clara)

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I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Anne M. June 11, 2014
Hi, Merrill! I've been reading the archives of your column as I'm starting to cook for my 7-month-old son. I see that you made peas for Clara, and I wonder if I could ask your advice on pureeing them. I failed at pureeing peas using the finest disc on my food mill (only pea juice got through), and when I put them in the food processor, they were too coarse for my son. Would you recommend a coarser disc on the food mill? Or a blender? I'm curious about the best method for green beans and corn, too. I know it's been years since you wrote this post, but if you happen to see this comment, I'd be grateful for your advice!
Merrill S. June 27, 2014
Hi Anne. Sorry for the delay! I actually never really pureed anything for Clara. I did press vegetables through a fine sieve for a bit, but I soon abandoned even that when I realized that a little texture wasn't a bad thing -- she adjusted pretty quickly and seemed to enjoy it. For more about how I landed on this approach, you can check out this post: https://food52.com/blog/4686-a-simple-bolognese-for-grownups-and-babies. Hope this is helpful, and I promise it gets easier!
crabby Q. July 10, 2013
I second the notion of a Cooking For Clara book, complete with adorable baby pics. I think you'd have a hit with all of these moms out there (such as myself) who are weary of the bland and boring. I mentioned to my mother that I was going to mix some garlic and herbs in with my baby's food and she almost fainted.
Alison W. November 4, 2012
I just posted a comment over on cheesy millet, which I think DD will eat, but carrots she will not touch, in any preparation. Neither will she eat sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or anything else of the beta carotene persuasion. The only orange food she will eat is cheese. I never give up offering them to her, and next time I do I think I will try this.
Cinnamin September 20, 2012
I know the travails of getting children to eat! My son is now one and a half, and thankfully enjoys eating what we do. On days when he gets real picky, I make some cumin stir-fried potatoes. I also believe it has to do with instinct,and sometimes, don't force it.
Allison B. September 19, 2012
Hi Merrill, I'm a huge fan of Food52! And as a nutritionist who has raised two healthy boys (now 23 and 19) I say trust your own instincts! You're a great cook and you know your child better than anyone. Relax and enjoy the fun and exciting bonding that happens with sharing your love of cooking and eating with your child. All my best! Allison
softenbrownsugar September 17, 2012
Personally, I think you should write a cookbook entitled 'Cooking For Clara'. I would buy it.
My 7 month old granddaughter is named Clara Nightingale, and I think this book would be a great keepsake for her and her Momma who likes to experiment with all kinds of food!
I totally agree with what Phyllis said.
LOVED the picture of her little face with her mouth wide open, waiting for that spoon!
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
What a lovely comment -- thank you so much. More posts to come!
karen81 September 17, 2012
I am laughing out loud here because nothing is more surprising than a baby with garlic breath! My youngest is amlost 2 and he loves garlic. He is still not comfortable with the texture of whole vegetables but loves purees so we each a lot of soup. The sprouted broccoli is all the rage at our farmers market and it tastes great with some toasted garlic and olive oil. I have to make a double batch so there is enough extra for soup. I hope to see more posts on insprirning young eaters to eat great food.

Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Yes, the garlic breath (not mention the garlic burps) is a somewhat jarring side effect. But she loves it. Stay tuned for more posts!
TurkeyGoddess September 16, 2012
Hi, it's your other mom here. I need to pull out pictures of Jonathan and we'll check to see who had/has the "orange-er" nose. He sure loved his carrots and it looks like Clara Pauline takes right after her dad. Love you all so much. Keep up the great work. See you soon.
xoxoxoxo times one miliion!
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
And she just started on cucumber slices, which she loves! xo
Morningstar42 September 16, 2012
Hi Merrill:
Sorry I missed your visit when you came to see your grandma Pauline.
She talked for a few days about little Clara Pauline.
I get to see here how much she has grown.
Can't wait to see her in her little coat outfit I got her.
She'll be so adorable. Hope you are all doing well. I love this food 52 site.
Lot's of hugs to you and little Clara. xoxo
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
So sorry we missed you -- next time for sure! xo
Nancy H. September 16, 2012
Merrill, I met you just once but know at a glance that Clara is your darling girl.
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
So sweet -- she definitely got my coloring!
phyllis September 16, 2012
Clara is gorgeous!! I raised two daughters and now have two grandsons (that's a change), and my advice is don't listen to the advice unless it's from your pediatrician. Be calm; it's unlikely Clara will break and let her live and breathe without being too overprotective!! You'll do the best you can, and she will love you forever.
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Excellent advice -- thank you!
Jennifer13 September 16, 2012
Clara is adorable! I can't wait to start using these recipes with our child in a few months time. Thank you for sharing!
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Thank you, and hope you find our adventures helpful when it's your turn!
mbj913 September 14, 2012
our almost-two-year-old marin is a well-rounded eater and i like to think its because we fed her things like this when she started solids. we froze mashed vegetables or beans or lentils in small trays in case what we were eating didn't translate well for baby. do you freeze at all?

clara is adorable!
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Haven't done much freezing yet, but it's on my list of things to do asap! And that's a great topic for another post, don't you think?
ChefJune September 14, 2012
Wow, Clara is just adorable! and what a great eater!!!
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Thank you! She does love her food -- though I can't say that was a huge surprise...
Emily September 14, 2012
Clara is so adorable!! And I can't wait to try this for G (though I don't actually have to mash them, as she has more teeth than I do, that chomper!!) xo
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Miss her -- and you too, of course! xo
lastnightsdinner September 14, 2012
Awesome. I am cheering over here :D
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
We need to get our little ones together!
lastnightsdinner September 20, 2012
We do! Let's plan on it ;)
thirschfeld September 14, 2012
Oh I remember those days of bliss. When they couldn't talk back and they ate everything in front of them. I used to do the same with prunes, especially, and other dried fruits and both girls loved them. Peas were good, so were edamame.
teamom September 16, 2012
Agreed! They really are the easiest until they get out of diapers. Gotta be careful with the prunes, though. I ate some of my mom's delecable prune bread when I was breast feeding my daughter, and 10 minutes later she turned into a little s*** factory. Had to hold her over the bathtub :D. Very happy to see that you're cooking wih garlic for her. She'll be healthy this winter! All the best to all three of you.
Merrill S. September 17, 2012
Clara has prunes every morning (more on that later), but a measured amount!
Miranda R. September 14, 2012
could that first picture be any more heart-melting!? the best. also, those carrots look insanely delicious - is it weird to be jealous of an 8-month old?
Merrill S. September 14, 2012
Not at all. Every day, we ask her if she realizes how good she has it -- nothing but eating, rolling around and naps!
saltycaramel September 14, 2012
Merrill -- So happy to see this post! I'm just starting my 6-mo old daughter on solid food so this couldn't be more timely. I'll definitely try these carrots since the whole family will like them. When my son was around 8 months, our pediatrician pointed out that he was clearly liking his orange vegetables -- she could tell by the color of his skin around his nose and cheeks. That was a cue to us to try a little harder on the greens! : )
Merrill S. September 14, 2012
We've got the orange nose thing going on too!