Pasta has always been a favourite with both children and adults, and it is so easy and relatively quick to make that it is the perfect meal when you do not have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
Pasta is also a great meal or snack for a Child with Cancer because it is soft and easy to swallow, and there are so many different pastas and so many ways in which to prepare it…
Pasta is a perfect foundation for healthy, nutritious and satisfying meals: pasta is generally eaten with nutrient-dense food partners, such as fibre-filled vegetables and beans, heart healthy fish and monounsaturated oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed cheeses, poultry and lean meats.
Another great reason to use pasta in conjunction with meat, fish, veggies or even just flavoured with herbs, is that most past dishes taste just as nice the next day (or even two days later) and many of them can be eaten either hot or cold.
If your childrens’ favourite meal is a bowl of pasta, try these oh-so simple recipes that will see a tasty meal on the table in minutes.
Tomato & Bacon Rigatoni
This tomato and bacon rigatoni, complete with garlic bread on the side, will serve 4-6 people and is a great budget meal.
- 1 pkt (500g) Rigatoni pasta
- 1 pkt (450g) Garlic Bread
- 8 slices (260g) shortcut bacon, cut into strips
- 1 bottle (700g) pasta sauce
- 1 tin (400g) Italian Diced Tomatoes
- Preheat the oven according to the garlic bread packet directions.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over high heat and add the pasta. Return to the boil and cook for 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan.
- While the pasta is cooking, place the garlic bread in the oven and cook for 14 minutes.
- In a medium non-stick frying pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the pasta sauce and diced tomato to the frying pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the sauce to the saucepan and toss with the pasta. Serve in bowls with the hot garlic bread on the side.
- You can up the flavour of this pasta dish by cooking a crushed garlic clove and a teaspoon of chilli flakes with the bacon and topping the pasta with grated parmesan cheese.
- Using No-Name Brands will make the dish even cheaper
Pasta Bolognese Pie
Pasta bolognese pie has all the traditional flavours of spaghetti bolognese but in a pie form. This makes it perfect to slice for a light lunch, pop into a lunchbox or take on a picnic. You can serve this hot or cold.
- 500g penne pasta, cooked al dente
- 4 cups bolognaise sauce
- 1 ½ cup pizza cheese, grated
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 160° C.
- Spray a 33cm springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a frying pan, heat cooked pasta and bolognaise sauce until hot. Remove from heat and stir in half of the pizza cheese, half of the parmesan cheese, eggs and parsley until well combined.
- Pour into the springform pan and smooth top with a spoon. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over the top and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.
- Serve hot or cold.
- Everyone has their own way of making bolognaise and this recipe takes that into account – so make your bolognaise sauce the way you like it.
- Serve with a crisp garden salad.
- This pie can be frozen – it is easier if you cut it into portions and wrap each one individually first.
Creamy Zucchini Pasta Bake
This creamy zucchini pasta bake makes the most of plentiful zucchinis when in season. It’s so simple that you can prepare it ahead of time and get the kids to help.
- oil spray
- 250g wholemeal or low GI pasta
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 3 large zucchini, chopped
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
- 1 cup (250ml) passata
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1/3 cup light cream cheese
- 2-3 large tomatoes, sliced
- 2/3 cup (50g) grated light tasty cheese (I used 50 percent reduced fat)
- fresh parsley to serve
- Heat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced). Spray a casserole dish with oil and set aside.
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add zucchini, onions and garlic with a pinch of salt.
- Cook vegetables for 8-10 minutes, until softened.
- Add chicken stock, passata and oregano and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the cream cheese and mix through the vegetables until combined.
- Add cooked pasta, season with pepper and stir to combine.
- Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish, top with tomato slices and grated cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley and a big salad.
- If your kids can’t stand anything green just peel the zucchinis before you use them.
- If you don’t have any zucchini to hand, try peas, broccoli or even eggplant.
- No oregano? No worries! Use thyme or basil instead.
- This recipe can be reheated or even served cold for lunch the next day.
If spaghetti bolognese makes a weekly appearance on your dinner table, then try this chicken ragu recipe for a bit of a change. Chicken mince makes a beautiful, somewhat lighter pasta sauce and this dish seems to have a little more spring in its step than the traditional pork and veal bolognese.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Gently cook the leek, carrot, celery, garlic and pancetta for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken mince and cook, breaking it up for a few minutes or until almost cooked through.
- Tip in the tomatoes, stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve with pasta of your choice, chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
- If you are in a super hurry you can use your food processor to chop the veggies in this recipe.
- Use chicken breast mince for this recipe to keep the fat content low.
Sausage & Spinach Lasagne
Leftover sausages? Turn them into lasagne. The rich tomato and spinach sauce, combined with a creamy béchamel topping, makes for a tasty twist on an old favourite.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 700g jar tomato passata
- 250g frozen spinach
- 3 sheets fresh lasagne
- 8 cooked sausages, halved lengthwise
- For bechamel sauce:30g butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) warm milk
- 1 cup (80g) grated tasty cheese
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over gentle heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Pour in tomatoes and passata, season well and simmer for 25 minutes. Add spinach and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- To make bechamel sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and allow it to cook for 1 minute. Gradually add milk, whisking continuously to ensure it doesn’t become lumpy. Allow the sauce to simmer gently for a couple of minutes until it has thickened. Remove from heat and stir through half of the cheese.
- Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Place a few spoonfuls of tomato spinach sauce in the base of a 20x25cm lasagne dish. Top with one sheet of lasagne. Lay 8 sausage halves across the top and spoon over half of the remaining tomato spinach sauce. Top with another sheet of lasagne, remaining sausages and remaining sauce.
- Finally top with the third lasagne sheet and pour over bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and bubbling.
- You can use regular sausages, Italian sausages or even chorizo in this recipe.
- You can use dried lasagne sheets but you may have to bake the lasagne for a little longer.
- Place the lasagne dish on a baking tray in the oven to catch any sauce as it bubbles over.