This week, the Petits Chefs were lucky enough to work with Shayma Saadat again. We’ve worked with Shayma a few times before – she’s taught the boys to make Afghan dumplings, we’ve made Saffron Potato Fritters and last spring we made potato “cutlets” in the Pakistani manner. Shayma is a food writer, cookery teacher, and public speaker and on her blog, Spice Spoon, she shares family recipes from the countries of her heritage – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Shayma is a Pakistani-Afghan with Persian lineage who grew up all over the world. Her mission is to demystify the Silk Route cuisine and inspire people to make the food she grew up eating. This week she chose a wonderfully fresh salad (with lots of chopping involved) for the boys to make.
I’ll admit that when Shayma first sent me the recipe, I wondered if it might be too easy (I mean, the week before the boys made four different French desserts in just over an hour!) but in the end I decided we’d use the session to really focus on precision in their knife skills (something we don’t always have the time to really do in an hour…). In fact, this session was one of the calmest ones I can remember – though I shouldn’t be surprised – I know that giving kids a challenge like “chop all these items so they are the same size” is one that they will totally rise to (better than many adults, in fact!).
Mise en place ready for assembly? All done!
Shayma showed the boys how to package up their salad to avoid the “soggy salad” factor until they were ready to toss and eat it. Doesn’t this look SO good?
In the end, we spent probably close to 50 minutes in small groups chopping vegetables and herbs to prep this salad. It was lovely for once to not be rushing and trying to do too much (ahem, that would totally be my fault all the time!) and it was really good for the boys to focus on their knife skills and precision. And Shayma commented more than once on their abilities.
When I was having my recipes tested for my book, there were a few recipes calling for tasks like chopping vegetables to a specific size (or grating things) and some of the adult testers (and people who variously edited the book) commented on the “boredom” factor (as in “Wouldn’t this be boring for kids to do?”). In fact, tasks in the kitchen (and, really anywhere) that kids repeat over and over again are exactly the type of thing that 1.They love to do (because they can see the progress they’re making) and 2. They really benefit from. Practice, after all, does make perfect. A salad like this would be the perfect summer meal prep you could get kids involved in!
We’re so grateful to Shayma for coming to work with the boys again this week. We’re so lucky to benefit from the generosity of the Toronto food community. Plus, I’ll be making this salad all summer long!