I frequently get requests for toddler- and kid-friendly food ideas and I struggle with how to respond. I know how other family and friends have struggled with picky eaters and I don’t want to meet that frustration with a smug, “my kid eats everything,” response. But the truth is, we lucked out.
Our toddler eats just about everything that we do. Her dinner plate is mostly just a smaller version of ours. I’ll remove her portion before adding spicy ingredients, or cook her burger and salmon a little longer, but she mostly eats like an 18-year old. Her 18-month old side is still partial to “fun foods” – things like cherry and grape tomatoes, blackberries and blueberries, smaller pasta shapes that she can wrangle with a fork by herself, and pinto beans.
She has a couple of quirks. She’ll lick the J off a PB&J and pull the turkey and cheese out of her sandwich and leave the bread behind. She similarly guts quesadillas, leaving a near perfect tortilla on the table. She wants her apple whole, peeled, and on the core. She likes to eat half her yogurt and use the other half as finger paint. And heaven help you if you ever find yourself between her and a stick of string cheese. Or as it’s known around here, “Theezth.”
This dish contains all of her favorite things – and ours! Wonderfully fresh, summery tomatoes, pasta, and mozzarella theezth. It takes a little longer than a standard pasta recipe but roasting the tomatoes to concentrate the flavors is so worth it. We make it meatless (it’s one of the very few meatless meals I get to serve) but it’s a perfect candidate to throw in diced or leftover chicken.
Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella
A light, fresh pasta dish with fresh mozzarella and flavorful roasted cherry tomatoes.
- 1 1/2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 13.25 oz box of penne
- 6 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes (or a container of mozzarella pearls, drained)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Toss tomatoes and garlic with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place in an oven safe pan and bake for ~45 minutes, until the skins have wrinkled and the tomatoes have burst.
- Cook pasta in salted water, according to package instructions.
- Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining the pasta.
- Return pasta to the pot and add a few splashes of pasta water.
- Add the mozzarella cubes and using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes and garlic to the pasta.
- Lightly toss, top with chopped fresh basil, and serve.
Yields: 4 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour