Bribery, Phase II: With a Recipe for Quick Pasta with Browned Butter, Corn & Almonds

Bribery, Phase II: With a Recipe for Quick Pasta with Browned Butter, Corn & Almonds

The bribery—excuse me, encouragement via promise of reward—continues anew. Three weeks after our initial breakthrough, when Harry ate a new vegetable every day for fourteen straight days, he continues to try unfamiliar vegs without (much) complaint. But here’s the thing I’m most proud of: He’ll now eat cucumber, carrots, or sugar snap peas for a snack. A snack, people. Plain, with nothing on them, and with no promise of any kind of reward. He just likes them.

I am beyond shocked. Sometimes I look at him for signs of a sixth toe or no belly button or something, just in case this creature before me is a replicant. But no, it’s really Harry, and he’s really eating vegetables. So when we went to Toys R Us yesterday (god help me) in a fruitless search for a new scooter, and he happened to find the Thomas & Friends aisle, and they happened to have the Ol’ Wheezy Logging Craneon sale, and he asked if we could start a new chart so he could earn it, well, what’s a parent to do?

Ol’ Wheezy now sits on a high shelf in the kitchen, either for encouragement or taunting (depending on one’s age and role in this little play). A new chart hangs over the kitchen table, right where the first one was. But we’ve upped the ante a bit: Now, instead of merely trying a new vegetable, Harry has agreed to try a little of everything Stephen and I are eating each night for a full week. Not as individual components, which is how we can occasionally get him to taste something new. As a prepared dish. He only has to take one bite, but he does have to eat it (no spitting out food) and he can’t make a big rude fuss about it.

When we negotiated this deal, I promised to try really hard to make things I thought he’d like—no sneaking in liver or stinky cheese (not that I’d want to include either of those things, anyway…). In the car on the way home from the toy store, Harry asked why we hadn’t had corn on the cob in so long, and after I explained the whole it’s-not-in-season thing, he asked why we couldn’t just have corn off the cob. Such a smartie. He was absolutely right, of course, so when we got home I set about creating a meal that used the frozen corn kernels I’d forgotten I even had.

I based it around pasta, which remains among his favorite foods (though he always insists it must be plain, with nothing but olive oil). The boy loves butter, so I used that, too. The other day he’d discovered that he really likes sliced almonds (though whole ones are still off-limits, the weirdo), so I used some of those too. Snuck in a little Parmesan for a hit of salty creaminess. End result: Harry wolfed down the pasta itself, and ate a bit of the corn and the almonds. Ultimately he said he didn’t care for either item in combination with the others, but he tried it, happily, and that’s all I’m looking for at this point.

Oh, and the grownups: We loved it. Stephen went back for seconds, something that rarely happens since we started on Weight Watchers. This one gets a big fat thumbs up, especially because it’s crazy fast: there’s almost no prep, and you don’t even start cooking the sauce until the pasta hits the water.

Harry’s well on his way to earning Ol’ Wheezy. He actually asked if his last meal to end the challenge, the one that would finally deliver the new toy to his track layout, could be falafel. I raised his shirt immediately: yup, the belly button’s still there. This is my son. Halle-freaking-lujah.

Tonight is (Relatively) Low-Fat Chicken Pot Pie. Cross your fingers, everyone.

Pasta with Browned Butter, Corn & Almonds
Serves 4
Weight Watchers: Each serving is 13 PointsPlus

1 pound fresh pasta (or 8 ounces dry, which lowers the PointsPlus to 10)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup frozen corn kernels (do not defrost)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

  1. Set a large pot of salted water on to boil, covered to speed things up.
  2. When it boils, toss in the pasta and make the sauce: Put the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized stainless-steel skillet. Swirl it around a bit as it melts, just to keep it cooking evenly. It’ll foam, and when the foam subsides the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan occasionally, and when the butter is just beginning to turn golden add the almonds. It’ll foam up again, then settle down to a nice sizzle. Don’t let either the almonds or the butter get too brown, or the whole thing will taste acrid—when they’ve both turned a nice deep tan shade, add the frozen corn kernels, a sprinkling of salt, and plenty of black pepper, and toss, toss, toss. Remove from the heat when the corn is warmed through, and stir in the parsley.
  3. By now the pasta should be ready. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Dump the sauce on top and stir, adding splashes of the reserved cooking water until all the pasta is nicely coated.
  4. Serve with additional Parm, if desired.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Go a little easy on the pepper and this is fine for babies, either pureed or as finger food. If you’re not pureeing be careful to crush up the almonds in baby’s portion, since full slices may be difficult for him to handle.