A Food Culture of Cooking with Kids
Alina is one kid that loves to cook! In her tiny toddler voice she asks me, What we cooking today, Momma? Accordingly, the culture in our home is quickly turning into one filled with recipes perfect for cooking with kids. I love that we are building food traditions around our kitchen and am proud that Alina would rather cook with me than do just about anything else. This easy recipe of Stuffed Pasta Shells is one such recipe that is perfect for tiny fingers!
Stuffed Pasta Shells
This recipe, although not quick, is fairly easy to make. To start, you need to make your tomato based sauce. Many families have a traditional marinara recipe incorporated into their food heritage, but don’t be afraid to use a good quality jar of sauce to simplify the process. Feel free to check out my traditional pasta sauce recipe which I pack with veggies and ground turkey.
At the same time, bring a pot of water to boil. Add entire box of pasta shells and cook as directed. Usually about 8 minutes. This is the part when kids of many ages will be able to start helping!
In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients:
16 oz of Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Garlic, pressed *go with taste on this. We use about 5 cloves, which is a lot.
Spinach, frozen is fine *again, just add to your taste.
Once your big pasta shells are cooked and cool enough to handle, let your little one help stuff each one with a tablespoon or so of the cheese mixture. Take turns holding the pasta shells open while their little fingers stuff. The pasta shells might tear easily, so help your toddler or small child understand that they need to treat the food delicately.
Line your stuffed pasta shells in a oven safe dish and watch your little one’s eyes gleam knowing they stuffed them all! Count the pasta shells and arrange in rows of the same number.
Before placing in a 350 degree oven (for 20-30 minutes), top the stuffed pasta shells with your veggie pasta sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (optional).
I believe in cooking with kids; food and cooking opens interests to new palates of tastes and world cultures. Building your family’s food traditions and food heritage doesn’t have to be fancy, either. It should just be filled with love and a bit of forethought in planning recipes, like these Stuffed Pasta Shells, that your little one will get excited to cook.