Cooking for three growing boys has its challenges. They may always be hungry, but having been raised up to this point on primarily convenient foods, they have a very limited idea of what is acceptable to eat. Unfortunately for me, just about any vegetable that I consider to be amazing is not currently on that list.
After months of trying to accommodate their wants with a real need to get them to eat in something like a healthy manner, it has come time to put on my “Dad” hat and just start making the right foods, regardless of the amount of noise coming from the dining room when something green comes out of the larder.
What do you do to get your kids to eat better? Do you have tricks for sneaking healthier alternatives into the mix, or do you just sit staunchly by until they finally cave in and eat what they should eat? I’d be very interested to know what other parents are doing here, especially since I’m starting with kids that haven’t been eating my food for the last four years.
I’ll grant that the only nod towards health that this particular dish shows is the spinach itself. This is not the world’s healthiest pasta dish, but I’m using sausage, butter and garlic as gateway foods to introduce healthier items like spinach and fresh basil. (They loved the basil… Not so much the spinach, but they ate some of it, so it’s a start!)
Another trick I’ve begun using is to decrease the amount of “the good stuff” in the dish. While I more than likely would have made this a year ago with a pound of sausage and simply saved the leftovers, now I’ve cut it down to 1/2 pound, knowing full-well that the two older boys will not leave even the smallest meaty bit in the pan or on their plates, regardless of how little they touch the vegetables.
- 1 lb. dry fettuccine noodles
- 1/2 lb. italian Sausage (Sweet, hot or mild. your choice.)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces spinach, rinsed and spun dry
- 4-6 basil leaves
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3-4 Tbsp pasta water
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- While water is coming to a boil, crumble sausage into a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook until well browned and no longer pink in the middle. Remove from skillet and drain.
- Drop pasta.
- In the same skillet, Add olive oil and butter. Add onions, season with salt and cook until just translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring often. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Add basil and stir through.
- If pasta is not done cooking, remove from heat until it's finished. If it's ready, just continue.
- Return sausage to skillet and toss to reheat and incorporate. Pour drained fettucini into sauce and toss to combine. Gradually add parmesan cheese, turning constantly with a fork or tongs, adding pasta water as necessary until desired consistency is achieved. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
- Share and Enjoy!
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I think this dish could have used more spinach, but I’m sure my kids would disagree with me on that. They seem to think that one spinach leaf was far too many. (Of course they tend to feel that way about all vegetables, but they’ll learn to enjoy ’em sooner or later!)
Other than that, I used a sweet italian sausage, but would have been happier with a hot Italian on this particular day, but that’s just because I was feeling a bit sniffly. Otherwise this was an awesome dish that I would gladly make again.
Links to other recipes like this:
- Fettuccine with Creamy Tomato Italian Sausage Sauce, from Elise at Simply Recipes
- Fettuccine with Sausage, Peppers and Onions, from Life’s Ambrosia