I never liked the idea of having ‘kids food’ and ‘grown up food’, but like most parents I know the daily battle of trying (and often failing) to cook one meal that pleases everyone. The idea of sitting at a table together where everyone happily eats what is put in front of them without complaining and trying to extract bits and pieces – it sometimes feels like mission impossible. Pasta is always a winner with the kids, I use whole wheat for extra carbs and fibre. Once the veg prep is done this dish almost cooks itself and it’s a real showstopper with all the vibrant colours. If the kids give you that ‘there’s no way I’m going to eat this’ look, simply blend their roasted veg (incl. the pine kernels) into a smooth, creamy sauce and just like that it’s suddenly accepted without a frown. I often make it when we have guests with kids as you can ask everyone independently which ‘version’ they prefer, without having to prepare two different meals. I think my husband secretly prefers the sauce although he says he loves it both ways, while for the boys it’s all about feeling in charge of what’s being put on their plates and I’m just happy I have an easy life for once.
What you need:
500g whole wheat pasta of your choice
3-4 peppers (red/yellow/orange) – deseeded, washed and sliced
500g cherry tomatoes (I like to go with a mix of orange and red) – washed and bigger ones halved
1 organic lemon – rinsed and halved
40g pine kernels
Handful of basil leaves – bigger ones roughly chopped
A little olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
How you do it:
Preheat the oven at fan 180C.
In a bowl drizzle a little olive oil over your sliced peppers, make sure they are evenly coated before spreading them onto a baking tray.
Roast the peppers for 15mins until they start to soften.
Meanwhile bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions.
Add the cherry tomatoes onto the tray, give everything a gentle stir, then place the lemon halves amongst the veg and roast for a further 10mins.
Scatter over the pine kernels and roast for 5 more minutes until they are lightly browned.
Once cooked drain the pasta, drizzle with a little olive oil and put aside while you quickly blend a part of the roasted veg, don’t forget to squeeze in the juice of one roasted lemon half.
Taste the sauce and season a little more if necessary.
Serve up the pasta with everyone’s choice of either sauce or veg, squeeze over the juice of the other lemon half.
Scatter the basil leaves on top and enjoy!
Tip: Roasted veg tastes best straight from the oven. If eaten the next day it tastes better blended into sauce (makes a great leftover pack lunch too).