I can’t believe that we’re back in the kitchen science lab again for another round of Les Petits Chefs, my after-school cooking club for 9-11 year old boys. I’m hosting two sessions of 6-8 weeks each this term between now and December so expect lots of great and kid-friendly (but not dumbed down) recipes!
This term we will once again be working with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook and this week, I chose two pasta recipes to show them just how versatile a few ingredients can be and how you can whip up a great meal in about a half an hour. We made Classic Tomato Spaghetti and Broccoli and Pesto Tagliatelle.
The “old boys” showed the new boys how it’s done as they chopped, grated and peeled the ingredients for each recipe. There was also much excitement as the boys got to use the Magic Bullet to make arugula and walnut pesto.
And then we got cooking!
2 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chile (we used banana peppers)
A small bunch of fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried spaghetti
1 x 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
To prepare your pasta:
Peel and finely slice the garlic. Finely slice your chile (halve and seed it first if you don’t want the sauce too hot). Pick the basil leaves off the stalks and put to one side. Finely chop the stalks.
To cook your pasta:
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add 2 good lugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, chile, and basil stalks and give them a stir. When the garlic begins to brown slightly, add most of the basil leaves and the canned tomatoes. Turn the heat up high and stir for a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the spaghetti in a colander then transfer it to the pan of sauce and stir well. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
These can be added to your tomato sauce when it’s finished. Just stir in and warm through:
• Add a handful of baby spinach leaves to the sauce at the same time you add the pasta — when the leaves have wilted remove from the heat and serve with some crumbled goat’s cheese on top.
• A few handfuls of cooked shrimp and a handful of chopped arugula with the juice of ½ a lemon.
• A can of tuna drained and flaked into the sauce with ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, some black olives and the juice of ½ a lemon.
• A handful of fresh or frozen peas and fava beans.
1 medium potato
1 head broccoli
A large bunch of fresh basil
1 pound dried tagliatelle
1/4 cup green pesto (we made our own arugula and walnut pesto – in the Magic Bullet!)
3 ounces Parmesan cheese
Wash and peel the potato and cut it into very thin shavings using a speed peeler. Slice the end off the broccoli stalk. Cut little broccoli florets off the head and put them to one side. Halve the thin stalk lengthwise, then slice thinly. Pick the basil leaves and discard the stalks. Grate the Parmesan.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the tagliatelle and broccoli stalks and cook according to the tagliatelle package instructions. Two minutes before the the tagliatelle is cooked, add the broccoli and potato slices. Drain everything in a colander over a large bowl, reserving some of the cooking water, and return to the pan. Roughly chop half of your basil leaves and add to the pan with the pesto and half of the Parmesan. Give it all a good stir and if the sauce is too thick for you, add a splash of the cooking water to thin it out a bit.
Divide the pasta between your serving bowls. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan and the remaining basil leaves. Serve it a lovely big bowl of salad.
Both pastas got a thumbs up from the boys, although Ritvik and Charles thought the “green one” was a bit “tasteless”. Ok then. Next time we’re going big or going home with the garlic – I went easy on it and perhaps I should not have underestimated my petits chefs’ tastebuds! I was pleased to show them that we could make two really solid dishes with just 60 minutes and limited equipment and I, personally, will be making the “green one” again – love the addition of the potato slices – makes it creamy without having to add cream.
We’ll be taking a break next week as the boys will be on Outdoor Education camp but we’ll be back in two weeks.
Did you check out my first entry for Project Food Blog yet?