Edible Basics: Kids In the Kitchen—Fresh Pasta
Photo by Michael Piazza/ Recipes developed by Georgia Blackburn
The first thing my husband and I cooked with our kids was fresh pasta from scratch. They were 2 and 4 at the time and very helpful, if extraordinarily messy—but that was kind of the whole point. They capably stirred eggs into flour, kneaded the pile into a semi-solid mass, then one sat on the counter feeding dough into the running machine while the other hung cut strands to dry on the oven door handle. It was such a fun family project—Chris and the kids at work on the pasta while I whipped up a sauce—and the resulting tangles of tender, tomato-and-butter-coated noodles became a favorite family meal.
Of the two kids, our daughter Georgia has emerged as the independent cook in her preteen years, often stepping up to make weeknight family dinners herself despite her busy after-school schedule. She’s got an honest and unbridled enthusiasm for cooking which I’d like to think came from watching me in the kitchen; more likely, though, it’s the result of her obsession with [BuzzFeed’s] Tasty videos, something called “Nerdy Nummies” and all those British baking shows appealing to kids her age. She just can’t get enough of them—trying out what she’s learned, experimenting with her own recipes—and at age 12 she’s a pretty respectable young chef. She even made her own birthday dinner last year: Hasselback potatoes, chicken Caesar salad and a cake with whipped strawberry foam.
So when Chris and I were in Bologna last fall for a pasta class and learned to roll the sheets out by hand with a pin, I couldn’t wait to share these new skills with Georgia when we got home. We took advantage of a soccer-free weekend afternoon and planned out a feast. She got to work right away creating flavorful, original sauces to dress hand-cut pappardelle and linguine, and even repurposed the filling from her favorite leek-and-Parmigiano puff pastry recipe into a stuffing for ravioli.
Making fresh pasta is a terrific project for kids of all ages—little ones can help cut noodles using a pizza wheel, while older kids can stuff and seal ravioli. Georgia’s sauces are kid-friendly both to make and to eat: These are simple ingredients with minimal technique—just some peeling, chopping and sautéing. They’re also extra nutritious—she added carrots to the tomato sauce and wilted spinach to the basil cream—but they’re cheesy enough that even picky eaters will gobble them up. If you’re short on time, any one of these sauces works just as well on store-bought fresh pasta or even good-quality boxed cuts; the ravioli filling can double as a sauce if you thin it out with a little seasoned pasta cooking water before tossing with cooked noodles.
This story appeared in the Spring 2019 issue.