My philosophy is that if I make it tast good the girls will eat it. What?!?! Yeah right. Keep dreaming. Well on Saturday night my spaghetti did tast delicious and the girls told me so, or their empty plates did anyhow. Maybe my philosophy on good tasting food makes for good eaters with toddlers is not totally true, but I do have another philosophy I believe IS true. Don’t make your spaghetti with actual spaghetti noodles! Not if you are serving it to toddlers.
Most of the time I have a some fun and interesting facts about why I chose to make a certain dish. This one is very simple. Spaghetti our way gives the girls the carbs, protein, and other nutrients they need.
The carbs are obviously coming from the pasta. I choose whole wheat pasta for the girls when making spaghetti. I could spend hours researching the positive outcomes of implementing whole wheat into a person’s diet, but let me stick to what I know. Whole wheat provides many benefits, but there are two I am aware of and these two I like. The benefits are dietary fiber and manganese. I’ll take anything that helps Cali and Ava’s “systems” working right. Nothing is worse the a bloated tummy and consequently irritated children. Manganese also aids in the digestive tract but also provides good bone health benefits. I’m sure this nutrient provides much more than what I listed, but those two are good enough for me.
Our spaghetti is made with grass feed, hormone free ground beef. If you do not like beef you could always substitute with ground turkey. Protein as we all know provides great nutritive value to our muscle growth, bone development, skin and hair. Protein helps build and repair tissues.
So there you have it. Spaghetti is not only just a kids friendly meal because of it’s taste, but it also packs in all the “good stuff” you want your child to have. Even if your child is gluten free, spaghetti still works. Just buy the rice pasta or other gluten free pasta products.
Here is the recipe:
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 3 medium garlic cloves, slice thin
- 2 ounce parmesan rind
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, fire roasted (Smash whole tomatoes with hands or potato masher in a separate bowl)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the meat
- 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 lb. grass fed, hormone free ground beef (Let sit until room temperature. About 20-30 minutes. Meat that is at room temperature cooks more evenly and is more loose, easier to brea apart and cook)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces whole wheat pasta, (I usually use fusilli shaped pasta)
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan plus more for topping dishes, (Don’t buy pre-grated. You get the rind from buying the cheese in a block)
In a medium saute pan (I like to use stainless steel), heat 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot (about 30 seconds) add 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Give the garlic a good stir and let sit for 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic brown. Add meat. Break up meat with a wooden spoon and add 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook untouched for about a minute. Stir and break up chunks. Cook for another 2 minutes untouched. Give one last stir. Cook for a final two minutes then take off heat. Pour meat into a separate bowl scraping away any remaining bits and drippings from the pan.
Heat a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Once hot add 1 tablespoon oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute or until garlic edges start to take on a golden color (Once the golden color appears they can quickly become burnt). Add smashed tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil. Add parmesan rind, thyme, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir and turn heat to medium low. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add meat to the tomato sauce and turn heat to low. Stir to combine. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
In the meantime, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (salting your water is critical because it is the only way to get flavor inside the pasta). Cook pasta for 10-12 minutes. Leave pasta having a slight bite to it. Soggy pasta is no good. Once pasta is cooked, transfer with a slotted spoon directly to the meat sauce. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA! Rinsing the pasta gets rid of all the starchy water on the pasta, which helps to thicken the sauce. Rinsing also stops the pasta from cooking. You want the pasta still hot when mixing in the with the sauce. It will helps the pasta to really absorb the sauce. Pour 1 cup of parmesan over the pasta and meat sauce and stir to combine. When serving, sprinkle additional parmesan over each dish.