Tonight, for example, was the night of my class' music and movement presentation - a fun opportunity for the little ones to showcase their talents for sure! While I certainly knew about it ahead of time, it still means not getting home until 8PM at the earliest without dinner... but thanks to a little advance planning this weekend a big ol' pot of healthy, hearty noodles and sauce is minutes away.
I was actually inspired to re-create tonight's dinner after making pasta and spaghetti sauce with my Home Economics classes. With such few ingredients and a great opportunity to make a mess, fresh pasta is a perfect opportunity to get kids into the kitchen, not to mention give them an appreciation for the work it takes to make their favourite food! All of the kids I worked with (grades 1-3) loved the whole process of both dough and sauce making, especially when they got to "play" with the pasta machine!
When it came to whipping up the sauce, I took a hint from a few celebrity chefs (i.e. Michael Smith and Rachael Ray) and added a few "secret", flavour-packed ingredients that made the 5 minute sauce taste like it simmered all day! The first trick was a combination of plain tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes - when mixed, they made a perfect base that was not too sweet, spicy or acidic. Then I added rich vegetable stock for a long-simmered taste and tamari for a burst of umami flavour. Finally, a piquant zip from a dash of red wine vinegar woke up the dried spices and really lightened the overall mouthfeel, making it perfect for cloaking hand-cranked pasta. Serving it to mixed (and young) company, I opted to keep things smooth and meat-free originally, but when I make it myself I throw in most of the garden too!
Simple Fresh Pasta
Makes just over 1 lb, perfect for 6 (side dish) portions
2 ¾ cups flour, plus more as needed (I used 1 cup semolina flour and 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour - you can swap in up to ½ the flour for whole wheat as well. )
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (optional, for more nutrition - included in the NI)
¾ cup warm water, plus more as needed
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Combine the flour(s) and salt (and flaxseed if using) in a mixing bowl.
- With a spoon, create a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together
- Using clean hands, knead in the bowl until the ingredients bind together and it forms into a ball. The dough should not be sticky, but should be moist enough to hold together.
- If the dough is too dry at this point you can add water, ¼ tsp at a time, until the dough is more workable. If the dough is too sticky, add a teaspoon of flour at a time, until dough is workable.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth.
- If you find dough too sticky, sprinkle in flour as needed.
- Form the dough into a ball and dust the surface with flour.
- Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- After the dough has rested, use a sharp knife to divide the ball of dough into 4 pieces.
- Shape each piece into a flattened log, generously flouring each side.
- Pass one piece of the dough through the roller part of a pasta maker, beginning on the thickest setting and going down 1-2 notches at a time to your desired thickness.
- Alternatively you can roll the dough by hand as thinly as you can.
- To cut the pasta, re-flour both sides of the dough sheet and pass it through the cutting mechanism of your pasta maker.
- If you don’t have a pasta maker you can cut noodles with a pizza cutter or knife.
- Place cut pasta on a cookie sheet coated with flour and dust with extra flour so the noodles do not stick together.
- Dry for 15 minutes, then transfer to a plastic container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can freeze the dough in the container up to 3 months.
- Boil for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until pasta begins to float to the surface.
- If using frozen pasta, do not thaw first (add 2 minutes to the cooking time).
Total Fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 195.1 mg
Total Carbs: 45.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 7.8 g
Quick Spaghetti Sauce
Makes about 2 cups, 8 servings
1 cup plain low-sodium tomato sauce
1 cup low-sodium crushed tomatoes
¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock*
½ tbsp tamari
½ tbsp sugar
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp fennel seeds
- In a pot, mix together all the ingredients until well combined.
- Place pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 5 minutes, then toss with cooked pasta and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 98.8 mg
Total Carbs: 5.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 0.9 g