Noodles! Kid-Pleasing Pasta Dishes

Green Noodles (with broccoli and green pea sauce)

When my kids were really young, my idea of meal planning during those truly frantic days was to rush into the kitchen at six o-clock, thinking: “Quick! Cook the noodles!” Pasta is the perfect food when you want dinner in a hurry and need to accommodate both adults and children. Most varieties cook quickly enough to accommodate ravenous hunger, yet allow enough cooking time to prepare a simple sauce and a salad. It’s hard not to love pasta, and wonder of wonders, even kids will eat it  — even if you have to leave the sauce you like off their portion and just add a little vegan buttery spread.

Here are a few tasty dishes for kids who have gone beyond the plain noodles phase. Simple as they are, I think adults will enjoy these comforting dishes as well. Consider using whole-grain pasta varieties: and if need be, of course, gluten-free. And make sure to explore the entire Veg Kids and Teens page on VegKitchen for lots of easy, healthy recipes for vegetarian and vegan kids and teens.


peanut butter noodles

PEANUT BUTTER NOODLES
Though this recipe is designed for kids whose preference runs to milder flavors, adults can enjoy this as well, by spicing up their portion of this dish with an hot sauce such as Sriracha, or dried hot red pepper flakes, and a sprinkling of scallion. This is good at room temperature as well as warm. Photo above by Lori Maffei.

4 to 6 moderate servings

  • 8 ounces pasta, your favorite shape
    (spaghetti, spirals, wagon wheels, small shells, etc.)

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon reduced- sodium soy sauce or tamari, or to taste
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Bring plenty of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain.

Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour over the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: When reheating leftovers of this dish, add a small amount of water, as the sauce thickens up quite a bit.

Green noodles with broccoli and green pea sauce

GREEN NOODLES
This easy pasta dish with a very green sauce (made of pureed green peas and broccoli) is great for kids who don’t mind a bit of green on their plate. Simple and tasty, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it! Photo above and at the top of this post by Lori Maffei.

4 to 6 moderate servings

 

  • 8 ounces pasta, your choice of shape
    (spaghetti, spirals, wagon wheels, small shells, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread (such as Earth Balance) or olive oil

Sauce:

  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
  • A big handful of baby spinach leaves, optional
  • 1/2 cup crumbled soft tofu
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional but highly recommended
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened rice milk or other nondairy milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Vegan Cashew or Almond Parmesan-Style Cheez, optional

Cook the pasta in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, according to package directions, then drain.

Meanwhile, combine the frozen peas and broccoli florets in a saucepan. Add just enough water to keep the bottom of the pan moist, perhaps 1/2 inch in depth. Steam over medium heat until the veggies are done but still a bit tender-crisp. Take care not to lose the bright green color!

Combine the peas and broccoli with the remaining sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smoothly pureed.

Pour over the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve at once. Pass around vegan Parmezan-Style Cheez to top individual portions, if desired.

 

VEGETABLE LO MEIN
This is a fun Chinese restaurant-style dish to recreate at home, and has the advantage of being far less oily than its take-out counterpart.

4 to 6 moderate servings

  • 8 ounces udon noodles or Chinese wheat noodles
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 8-ounce bag preshredded coleslaw (preferably with carrots included)
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half,
    or frozen cut green beans, thawed
  • 15-ounce can cut baby corn, drained, liquid reserved
  • 2 to 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch-long segments
  • Vegetable stock or water, as needed
  • Natural soy sauce to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the noodles in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a wok or stir-fry pan. Add the coleslaw, green beans, and 1/4 cup of the liquid from the baby corn. Cover and steam for 5 minutes.

Add the baby corn and scallions and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are all just tender-crisp, adding just enough liquid from the baby corn to keep the bottom of the pan moist.

Combine the cooked noodles with the vegetables in a serving bowl and toss together. Add the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil, then season with soy sauce and grind in pepper to taste. Serve at once.

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5 comments on “Noodles! Kid-Pleasing Pasta Dishes

  1. Vanetta Bibiloni

    I spent a year as an exchange student in Kyoto Japan, and I have to say I probably wouldnt have gotten by if it wasnt for a delicious dinner of udon a few times a week! There is even one shop where you can eat for free if you do 30 minutes of washing after! Anyway, I found a load more tasty looking ideas at this udon recipe site.

  2. Mama_J

    Peanut sauce noodles are great! Made a nice mild tasting sauce that my little babe loved! Thanks :)

  3. Katie

    I love these ideas I’m a 13 yr old vegetarian and everything on here looks delicious!

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