About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006
Dinner For All
What is it with kids and vegetables?

When M. was younger, she ate almost anything, cucumbers (fresh & fermented), tomatoes, pumpkin, cauliflower, beans (all kinds), you name it, M. would try it. Then like a light switch flicking off, she now only eats a few things like potatoes. It's like kids carry a common program that kicks in about two or three, stopping them from enjoying veggies. We all know when the program has booted up, cause all kids say "It's Yuk" in common, even before actually trying a vegetable for the first time.

As parents our job is to trick them into it, which is not so easy as all kids are fitted with special detectors. Saw a program where a television chef cooked three different vegetable dishes for four children, only one child admitted liking one dish, she must have had a faulty program or detector.

So it's great when you stumble upon a dish that is based on a vegetable, that both you and your children enjoy. Noodling around in Marcella Hazan's Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking, I came across a recipe for a pasta sauce, that was so simple and sounded so good, that I was amazed that I hadn't noticed it before. That's the beauty of rereading favourite cookbooks, sometimes something jumps off the page at you.

Pasta with Broccoli Sauce
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

2 heads broccoli
8 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
pinch chile flakes

Cut broccoli into florets, trim stalk and cut into pieces. Cook in boiling salted water for five minutes until tender. Drain, reserving water to cook pasta. Chop broccoli florets and stalk into fine pieces, the florets should almost disintergrate. Put the olive oil into a pan, Marcella suggests placing this pan over boiling water, adding anchovies and breaking them up with the side of a wooden spoon. What I did was to put the pan over low heat, and put the anchovies through the garlic press with the garlic into the oil, warmed the oil to infuse for a few minutes, then added all the broccoli.

Stir through and if it seems to dry add more olive oil. Boil 500 g (1 lb) pasta in reserved water plus extra if needed, until done. Take enough pasta and broccoli sauce to feed the kids and mix. In the remaining sauce add chile flakes and mix with pasta.

Note: don't drain the pasta until completely dry, try and use shell or similar pasta to catch the sauce, that way the kids can't scrape the sauce off. Son A. suggested parmesan cheese was too sharp, maybe Romano would be a better choice.

Daughter M. ate the whole plate and asked for seconds.
  posted at 10:27 am

At 12:16 pm, Blogger Angela said...

Funny, isn't it? None of my kids will eat green beens....not even when they were babies.....they all gag. They are pretty good about eating veggies most of the time, but sometimes I have to sneak it in there. Like tonight, I fixed taboule with some extra tomato, cucumber, and a bit of chicken.....and they never knew what hit them!

At 8:49 am, Blogger Gigi said...

This sounds wonderful! I love the oil, garlic, anchovie combination; I can almost smell it now...

I have a favorite dish that's similar but considerably lazier: saute lots of garlic, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, some capers and salt in oil.

Meanwhile, boil pasta in large pot with salt. 3-4 minutes before the pasta is expected to be ready, just toss in the broccoli; stems, florets and all. The water is so hot the vegs cook quickly. After 3-4 minutes max; drain, toss with sauce, parmesan, peccorino or romano cheese and serve. It's tasty and always gets raves, and it's so sinfully easy, you almost feel guilty. But not really. :)

Never tried it on the little ones though. Hmm...

At 5:06 am, Blogger Fiber said...

A very interesting sauce idea. I will have to try it. Not sure how I feel about the anchovies, but I guess I'll try anything once...

At 10:27 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi Angela, sounds like you are lucky with the veggy thing, we always feel bad that M. may not be getting enough good stuff, but it's not from lack of trying.

Hi gigi, thats not lazy, that's smart!

Hi fiber, don't worry too much about the anchovies, they're all squished up. Maybe try only one or two and see how you go.


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