By Amy Landsman
Short on time? Need something both you and your kids will eat and enjoy? That probably rules out chicken nuggets, so for many of us, the answer is pasta.
Dressed up with spicy sauce for the adults, or simply tossed with butter and cheese for the kids, pasta works well on many levels.
“They could eat pasta every night for dinner,” laughs Ayme Lederman of Pikesville. She says Sarah, 6 1/2, and Haley, 3, generally prefer rotini or penne.
As parents dropped off their kids at the E.B Hirsh Early Childhood Center at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, they stopped for a few minutes to talk about their families’ favorite pasta dishes.
Denise Feldman’s two kids, Asher, 2, and Joshua, 4, won’t touch tomato sauce and are very specific about the shape of their pasta.
“Pinwheels, that’s what they want. And if it’s not pinwheels, it has to be something they can pick up with their fingers. No spaghetti or linguini or any of that,” the Mt. Washington mom says.
Other kids are a bit more adventurous..
The Schugam family of Pikesville is gluten-free. They still eat pasta, only it’s not made with wheat. Jennifer Schugam says Arthur, 6, and William, 3, really enjoy a brown rice fusilli.
“It’s a spiral shape and the kids love it… and it tastes just like regular pasta,” she says.
At the Moss house in Hampden, 4-year-old Aaron eats only plain pasta, but 7-year-old Isaac likes to walk on the wild side.
“Isaac wants sauce and he wants hot chili peppers in the sauce,” reports their mom, Anne.
Isaac even likes a sophisticated linguine, tuna and black olive number Moss got from The New York Times a few years ago. “It’s not canned tuna. It’s fresh tuna and you sear it. There’s tomatoes and olives.”
Pasta isn’t just for dinner. Moss serves leftovers for breakfast.
“The best thing we do for pasta is fry it up with sauce the next day with olive oil. It gets a little crispy and my 7-year-old son will have that for breakfast,” she says.
If it’s mild enough, some kids really go for spaghetti sauce. Orlee Glazer of Mt. Washington makes a mild-tasting homemade sauce her almost-2-year-old daughter Lana likes. After tossing it with pasta, she uses the leftover sauce for pizza.
At the Rudick household in Summit Chase, 6-year-old Harrison and his 4-year-old sister Lauren take their pasta plain, while parents Brian and Lisa dress their noodles up with meatballs and other add-ons. But one noodle dish the whole family agrees on is lo mein from the neighborhood takeout.
Kid-Friendly Not-Too-Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Fresh chopped basil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Put everything but the basil, salt and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about an hour, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
2. Add the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Isaac Moss’s Favorite Linguine
with garlic, fresh tuna, black olives, tomatoes and rosemary (Adapted from Molly O’Neil in The New York Times)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 8-ounce fresh tuna steaks
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovy fillets, minced (or 2 tsp anchovy paste)
1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 lb linguine
1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Season the tuna on each side with salt and pepper; when the oil is nearly smoking, add the tuna.
2. Reduce the skillet heat to medium and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and let cool on a plate. The tuna will be very rare, but will cook a bit more in step 4.
3. Return the skillet with the oil to medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies or anchovy paste, chili pepper flakes and tomatoes. Toss to warm.
4. Meanwhile, break the tuna steaks into bite-sized chunks, using a fork. Return the chunks to the skillet over low heat and add the olives, rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
5. When the water has come to a vigorous boil, cook the linguine until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss with the tuna and serve.