Like many of us, today’s guest-poster Melanie Rehak read Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser and became inspired to shop more responsibly. But also, like many of us, she was confused about how exactly to go about doing this. That’s what led her to work at a small restaurant that focused on local, sustainable foods as well as work at the farms that supplied that restaurant. (Not like many of us.) And guess what? For all she learned and cooked, she still couldn’t figure out how to feed her oldest son, whose excuses for not eating what she cooks made me laugh out loud. She tells the whole story in Eating for Beginners, new in paperback, and a free copy of which goes to a commenter chosen at random*. But for now, here’s part of the story, which includes a killer bacony pasta recipe as well as the always helpful reminder not to blame ourselves when we are face-to-face with a picky eater at the dinner table.
Until about 8 months ago, I was the parent of a picky eater. Before you groan at the thought of yet another story about how a formerly chicken nuggets-eating child is now a gourmet, fear not. My five year-old remains such a bizarre—dare I say, contentious—eater that I’ve dumbfounded even the most experienced parents with my tales of his refusals of plain pasta and toast. He has never once allowed a bite of hamburger or macaroni and cheese to pass his lips, and his current favorite food is pea shoots. And no, I’m not going to boast about his charming, eclectic tastes. Have you ever sat through a meal with a child who eats three pea shoots and then listened to him whine until bedtime because he’s hungry? (more…)
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Tags:easy pasta dinners·easy pasta recipes·eating for beginners melanie rehak·melanie rehak·pasta recipes for kids·pasta with peas bacon parm
…and neither you nor your spouse…can even think about getting dinner on the table. Especially if you are the one cooking the Big Dinner in a few short days for a few dozen guests. This easy pasta dish is a good fall-back plan for these kinds of nights, when all you want to do is pour a glass of milk over some Fruit Loops and call it a meal. It’s healthy, makes good use of last-legs grape tomatoes, and requires minimum hands-on time so you can go ahead and get something done — like wrap the karaoke machine or the Sambas or the new Amelia Rules book. Shhhhh!
Whole Wheat Pasta with Roast Tomatoes and Mascarpone
Toss two small containers grape tomatoes and 1/2 red onion (roughly chopped) in olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 300°F for an hour or until tomatoes look shriveled and a little golden brown on top. (Watch them to make sure they don’t blacken.) During last 15 minutes of roasting, cook whole wheat penne according to package directions. After you drain penne, add olive oil and 1 clove garlic (minced) to the same pot and cook over low heat about a minute. Add pasta back to pot, then toss with tomatoes and onions. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or ricotta and freshly grated Parmesan.
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Tags:easy pasta recipes·whole wheat pasta recipes
This recipe used to be our go-to for entertaining vegetarians — back when vegetarians were, you know, a rare breed. Now, thankfully, the dish has moved into our regular dinner rotation. The hardest part about it is securing the sheep’s milk yogurt — but not really, you can find it at Whole Foods or even a slightly-gourmet supermarket — then it’s just a matter of remembering to cook more onions than you think feels right. The contrast between their caramel-ly sweetness and the tangy yogurt……I don’t want to get overly precious here, but: Oh. Boy. It’s so good that I don’t mind cooking two completely separate meals for the grown-ups and the kids, who, sadly, won’t touch it no matter how many chocolate-covered raisins and Michael Jackson youtube videos I promise them as a reward.
Can't win 'em all. Our dinner (left); the kids' dinner (right)
Pasta with Yogurt, Spinach and Sweet Onions
Adapted from Amanda Hesser, The New York Times.
3 glugs olive oil
4 yellow onions sliced
1 pound whole wheat fettucini
2 6-ounce containers sheep’s-milk yogurt, drained through a coffee filter set in a strainer for at least 20 minutes
2 cups-ish fresh spinach
1 cup grated Parmesan
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown, 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot, adding spinach during the last 30 seconds. Strain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. In the same pot, whisk together the drained yogurt with the pasta water. Toss pasta with the yogurt mixture. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Sprinkle generously with cheese and top with onions.
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Tags:easy pasta recipes·pasta for family dinner·pasta with yogurt and caramelized onions·vegetarian entertaining