Welcome to week 33 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly kid-tested and kid-approved recipe, hands-on experiment, or activity paired with a Learning Moment that brings learning to life in the kitchen.
In this week’s edition of Kitchen Classroom, Kids Cook Dinner! Young chefs can whip up the easiest-ever take on pasta with marinara: One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce. While the whole family dives into this hearty, tomatoey main dish, they can take our pasta shape quiz—who will do the im-pasta-ble and get a perfect score? Then, in Take It Further, kids can become pasta engineers and invent their very own pasta shape.
Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #ATKkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content designed especially for kids.
Here’s what’s cooking for the week of August 16th through 22nd, 2021.
Kids Cook Dinner: One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce
Pasta with tomato sauce is already a quick and easy weeknight dinner. We managed to make it even simpler by turning it into a one-pot affair. The pasta cooks directly in the sauce, meaning no waiting for water to boil and no dangerous noodle draining—plus, the penne gets to soak up some of the yummy marinara.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 onion, peeled and chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, opened
¼ teaspoon sugar
3¾ cups penne pasta
3 cups water
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Trivia (General Knowledge):
Share with kids that penne is one of the many—more than 1,300!—pasta shapes that Italians have invented. Each shape has its own story, and many are named after the object they resemble. As kids enjoy their bowls of pasta, they can test their noodle knowledge by taking our Endless “Pasta”-bilities quiz. They’ll learn what orecchiette really means, which pasta shape is a little sluggish, and so much more. Who will take home the first-place trophy (or, should we say, trofie)?
Take It Further
Visual Arts (Design) and English Language Arts (Writing):
After kids eat their one-pot pasta, ask them: If you were to invent your very own pasta shape, what would it look like? Would it be long or short? Kooky or simple? Would it resemble an object in nature? Or would it combine qualities from all your favorite pasta shapes? Encourage kids to sketch out their ideas. Once they have their final design, kids should name their pasta shape. Would kids like to name it after the Italian word for the object it looks like, such as radiatori (Italian for “radiators”) or anelli (“little rings”)? Or, will they come up with their own wacky word?
Finally, ask kids why they picked that particular shape: Is it because you’ve simply never seen a shape like it, or because you think it would make the pasta-eating experience that much better? You can share with kids that Dan Pashman, the host of The Sporkful podcast, created his own pasta shape called “cascatelli” (a play on the Italian word for waterfalls) earlier this year, and it became incredibly popular. Pashman wanted three key qualities in his pasta: “sauceability” (how well sauce adheres to it), “forkability” (how easily it stays on the fork), and “toothsinkability” (how satisfying it is to sink one’s teeth into it). Will kids factor in these qualities as they dream up their own pasta? Encourage them to share their thought process for creating their pasta.