Children can be fussy eaters at times, and this might cause stressful meal times at home. Exploring recipes and making food together motivates children to taste the ingredients, sample along the way and enjoy the finished products!
Making pasta is the perfect way to include children in the cooking process, supporting their literacy, mathematical and scientific understanding as you read the recipe, measure, weigh, combine and cook together.
Here’s a simple pasta recipe to enjoy making with your child, and a delicious sauce to go with it – tried and tested in our centres!
Our favourite fresh pasta recipe
Make for 4:
- 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- Plain flour, extra, to dust
Or a single serve which may be easier for your child to manage:
- 1 cup plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 room temperature egg
- Flour to dust
- Sift the flour and salt together onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound. Make a well in the centre.
- Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture.
- Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough.
- Check the dough is the right consistency by pressing a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again.
- Kneading the pasta dough is the fun part and it needs to be kneaded until it starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury.
- Wrap the dough in a clean tea towel or similar and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.
- Divide the dough into four pieces and roll out with a rolling pin until thin, using flour to sprinkle on the dough. Cut into ribbons, then proceed to cooking; depending on thickness, your homemade pasta will cook in approximately 2-4 minutes!
Top tip: If your child is very young, provide them with playdough, cutters, something to roll with and have them make playdough pasta alongside you. They will have just as much fun with the playdough as you will with the pasta dough. You can compare your creations as you enjoy a tasty meal together.
Chef Mario’s nut-free pesto recipe
There’s a simple secret to winning over children reluctant to try new foods, and that’s flavour.
One of our centre chefs, Mario Pompilio, a father of three, has turned his experience cooking in some of the country’s top restaurants into a passion for serving high-quality meals to little ones.
Chef Mario’s nut-free pesto is a breeze to prepare and will turn a humble bowl of pasta into a family favourite packed with fresh goodness.
Chef Mario’s recipe for nut-free pesto:
- 45g pepita seeds
- 45g basil
- 45g spinach
- 1 clove garlic
- 60g Parmesan shredded
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 100g cherry tomatoes diced
The method is simple. Place the spinach, basil, garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add oil gradually until all combined, then add seeds, with the motor running gradually blending to a smooth pesto. Mix through pasta and add diced tomatoes on top with a shaving of parmesan!