Sunday, 30 September 2012

Kids in control

About 25 years ago, I spent a summer teaching my brother and one of my cousins to cook, in exchange for gin (supplied in a glass, with tonic, ice and a squeeze of lemon).  This year, the brother returned the favour – introducing me to pick’n’mix pasta, now firmly at the top of the food requests for Miss 9 and Miss 7.  This is the perfect solution to family food fights – simply provide a wide selection of possible choices and let everyone choose the selection that they like.  It’s also great for birthday party dinners, where there may be long lists of likes/dislikes.  We’ve always found something that everyone will eat.

Pick’n’mix pasta
Dried pasta shapes – we use large spirals or shells, allow at least 60g dried pasta per child – or more if they are looking ravenous!

Basil pesto – bought or homemade
Tomato – could be roughly chopped and just warmed, or a rich, thick passata that has spent an hour or more reducing down
Red onion –  thinly sliced, gently sautéed in olive oil, then add 1 tbsp sugar, ½ C white wine, a dash of sherry vinegar and slowly simmer to a thick, sweet paste, add salt and pepper to taste,  it may need a bit more sugar or a dash of lemon juice to reach perfection

Pick’n’mix selections
Protein supply – sliced ham, salami, biersticks, shredded chicken (roast or smoked), smoked fish, anchovies
Veges – cherry tomatoes, corn, capsicum (we generally select for food requiring no cooking!), olives, any other vege quickly blanched
Cheeses – feta, haloumi, parmesan, Colby (for the less adventurous)
Prepare any sauces or veges that require cooking, to be ready at the same time as the pasta is cooked.  Line up the pick’n’mix selections on the kitchen bench and let the children loose.  Replenish bowls, and await the call for seconds.

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