When children express an interest in cooking it can be tough to know where to start. Pasta dishes are a great early introduction to cooking. Dishes, such as spaghetti, are a great introduction to simple skills, including chopping, stirring, seasoning, and cleaning as you go. Read on to learn how to teach kids to cook spaghetti and sauce.
There are many types of spaghetti sauce you can make. In this recipe, we will focus on a clean spaghetti sauce with plenty of vegetables. This sauce helps kids see how to combine many ingredients to get a complex sauce.
● Box of dry spaghetti
While some children may be ready to make pasta from scratch, that process is quite involved. So, dry pasta is a simple introduction to this classic dish.
● 1 jar marinara sauce
● 1 medium onion
● 1 clove garlic
● 1 cup cauliflower
● half a cup of diced mushrooms
● 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
● 2 stalks celery
● 1 teaspoon oregano
● 1 teaspoon basil
● 1 teaspoon thyme
● 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
● 1 pound of Ground beef
● half a teaspoon of parmesan cheese
● 1 tablespoon of Olive oil
● Cheese grater
● Pot Stirring Spoons
Shopping with kids
While jumping right into the cooking process can be fun, bringing your children shopping is a lovely introduction to the full experience. Take your child to a grocery store and gently guide them as you find all the ingredients.
For this recipe, you will need to visit the produce, jarred sauce, pasta, and meat sections. Use the produce and meat areas, as an opportunity to pick out high-quality ingredients. You can also teach your children about prices in all areas of the grocery store. Show them the difference between prices by the pound in the produce and meat sections and the prices by the unit in the dry goods area.
Wash your hands.
Have your child help you prepare the vegetables. Depending on their age and comfort in the kitchen, they can use child-safe knives to help them chop the herbs, mushrooms, onion, and celery. If they are not ready to handle knives themselves, let them observe your safe knife skills. Show them the difference between dice and mince.
Put on a pot of water to boil and salt generously.
Use the cheese grater to grate the cauliflower and parmesan. Children around seven can use a cheese grater when given safety instructions.
Put oil in the saucepan, turn on the heat, and add mushrooms, garlic, and onions.
Once the onions are translucent, and the mushrooms release liquid, add cauliflower, parsley, oregano, basil, pepper, and pasta sauce.
Let the sauce simmer as you brown your meat or meat substitute in your pan.
Add the meat to the sauce carefully, avoiding splattering.
Add your dry pasta to the boiling salted water and cook according to the box instructions. This step is a great point to teach your child how cooking time can change the softness of pasta. Let them try a small piece of pasta when undercooked, al dente, and let a few pieces overcook so they see what that tastes like. Remove the majority of the pasta before it overcooks.
Serve a bowl of pasta with sauce and cheese on top.
● Teach your child how to clean produce before chopping it.
● Since this recipe uses meat, it is essential to use it as an opportunity to teach your child safe meat handling procedures. Use separate utensils for raw meat and cooked meat and vegetables. Show them how to recognize when meat is still too pink to eat.
● With so many hot liquids in this recipe, it is vital to avoid splattering liquid, which can burn you and your child. Show them how lower temperatures make the water boil less.
● This recipe is a fun opportunity for your child to practice their knife skills. Let your child go at their own pace with chopping and grating, and do not force your child to perform tasks for which they are not ready.
● Have a first aid kit on hand. While you never want an accident to happen, it is vital to have band-aids at the ready, just in case.
● As with any recipe, you and your child should wash your hands before doing anything.
● Instill good habits in your child by teaching them how to clean as they cook in the kitchen. If they are not ready for chopping or stirring, cleaning may be a simple job for your child.
● Introduce the concept of a mise en place by organizing all the sauce ingredients after preparation and before cooking.
● Fun is essential! The best way to help your child love cooking is by making the process enjoyable instead of a chore. Even if they only want to participate in one aspect of the process, make that aspect a blast.
● Narrate the whole time. It is easy for young children to lose focus when it comes to complex tasks. Talking your child through the process is a great way to help your child feel prepared and focused.
● Display the recipe. Having the recipe visible to your child helps them understand where you are getting the information. If they can read, you can even use the recipe as an opportunity for reading practice.
● If your child is interested, you can also encourage them to try some of the ingredients individually such as the vegetables and herbs. This way they can understand the flavor each offers and then how it works when combined with other ingredients in the final product.
● Before any cooking begins, set the scene. Lay out ingredients and tools in the proper spots. Your child does not need to participate in this step, but it can help them get to know their kitchen.
● Bolognese - Bolognese sauce is a meat-based tomato sauce that works well with pasta varieties.
● Dice - When you dice vegetables, you chop them into evenly sized pieces around the size of a die. These pieces provide bursts of flavor throughout the dish.
● Mince - When you mince food, you chop it into tiny pieces. This size allows the flavor of the ingredient to penetrate throughout the dish.
● Mise en place - This French term refers to laying out all your ingredients in preparation for cooking. This practice lets you see all your ingredients and clean up after them easily.
Spaghetti is a fantastic introduction to cooking. Whether your child only wants to add ingredients to a pot, or they can do all the steps themselves, working with you in the kitchen can develop many skills for your child. Be prepared, stay safe, and do not forget to have fun!