Does anyone else have a super picky toddler? I swear, all my daughter wants to eat is scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and jam, pears, nectarines, yogourt and pasta. And not just any yogourt, but the Paw Patrol yogourt. And not just any pasta – it has to be the tubed ones like rigatoni or penne. I try to sneak in veggies wherever I can – I scramble her eggs with chopped up spinach and I try to sneak in some veggies in her pasta dishes, but she usually just picks around them and just eats the pasta. Her daycare teacher tells me that she eats very well at daycare, but I find that hard to believe. Or maybe she enjoys eating with the other little kids, who knows. All I know is that dinnertime is such a hassle with her. My husband and I certainly don’t want to eat pasta every day, so what I end up doing is making a big pasta dish for her every other day, so that on the day that she’s eating leftovers, my husband and I can actually eat something else for dinner!
This broccoli and cheddar pasta is her absolute favourite and she would eat it every day if I let her. When she sees me plating it up, she is grabbing at my leg, pointing, yelling “pasta, pasta!” , and can’t wait to sit down at the table to devour it. I don’t mind making this for her often because it is easy to make and takes only about 20-30 minutes. I sneak the broccoli in there but she just picks around it. I don’t mind though, because I like to eat all the broccoli out of it while she eats all the pasta. Win-win! I also like that you don’t have to cook your broccoli separately. I just cut it up into small florets, rinse them and leave them in the strainer. Then, when my pasta is done cooking, I drain my pasta through that same strainer. The boiling water from the cooked pasta will cook the broccoli just enough to turn them bright green but still retain some crunch.
I like to use Bothwell medium cheddar cheese for this recipe, but feel free to use marbled, mild or strong cheddar. I find that the medium adds just enough bite and flavour without being too bland or too overwhelming. I grate the cheese using the biggest holes on my grater – it just helps the cheese melt faster and more evenly. I use up the entire 170g block of cheese and you can often find these on sale at Safeway for about $4.99 for a small block.
I highly recommend this recipe for picky eaters. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’ll be making this again in the next few days so follow me on Instagram if you want to see the play by play on my Instagram stories!
Approx 500 grams of pasta (I buy the 454 gram boxes or packages of penne or rigatoni)
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of half and half cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
170 grams of medium cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Chop your broccoli into small florets, rinse and leave in the strainer.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook your pasta according to the package instructions; drain with the same strainer that the broccoli is in
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
Add in the flour and whisk for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and Dijon mustard until it thickens, about 5 minutes. If you feel it is too thick, add in a little bit more milk. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in pasta, broccoli and grated cheese until well combined, about 5 more minutes.
Upon review of my recent posts, I have come to realize that I have a pasta problem. My last five posts have all been pasta recipes. Pasta is such a crowd-pleaser in our home that it’s my go-to meal for most weekdays. If both my husband and I are working, then I will whip up a pasta dish when I come home from work. If my husband is on days off and I’m working, then he’ll BBQ steaks or kebabs (is it kebabs or kabobs?) with grilled veggies and potatoes. On weekends when I’m off work I do more involved recipes, such as something Vietnamese or roast beef or roasted chicken or I experiment with new recipes for content on this blog.
Since we are eating so much pasta, I like trying different types of pasta to mix things up a bit. My favourite is the mafalda corta that I mentioned in my bolognese recipe. Penne and bowtie are okay, but I’m not a fan of spaghetti or linguine. If a recipe calls for a longer strand type of pasta, then my absolute favourite is pappardelle. For this recipe, I decided to try orecchiette because I like the way it sounds and because I found a bag of it at Save-On Foods one day. (I’ve never seen orecchiette at Safeway). Orechiette comes from the Italian word ‘orecchia’ meaning ‘ear’ and ‘etta’ meaning small because ,well, the pasta is shaped like small ears.
I added broccolini to this recipe because like most moms, I’m trying to get my toddler to eat more vegetables. It didn’t work, by the way. She just picked out the pasta and sausage bits and left all the broccolini on her plate. Oh well, at least I got more vegetables in my diet. Broccolini is similar to broccoli, but it has smaller florets and long thin stalks. It’s almost like a broccoli / asparagus hybrid. It has a sweeter flavour than broccoli, is super high in Vitamin C, and is so versatile in recipes. I’ve sauteed broccolini with beef or chicken in an Asian stirfry before, but this time, I decided to boil them and add them to this pasta. You can find broccolini in the produce aisle of your grocery store, and they are often packaged in a tray and wrapped in plastic, like this:
For some added protein and flavour, I used a package of Johnsonville mild Italian sausage. If you aren’t feeding your kid this, I would recommend buying the Johnsonville hot Italian sausage. I think that would add more flavour to it.
And as always, remember to use real Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself!
1 package of Johnsonville Italian sausages (I bought the mild flavour)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
salt and pepper (to taste)
500 g bag of orecchiette pasta
1 package of broccolini, trimmed and cut into small florets and 2-inch stalk pieces.
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, with extra for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the Italian sausages with a fork (so that they won't explode!) and place them on a foiled sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes in the oven, turning once, until just cooked through. Slice them into 1/2 inch coins and set aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven). Add the sausage slices and saute for 5 minutes until the pieces are browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, red wine, tomato paste and salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil and then let simmer on low heat while you prepare the pasta and broccolini.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
In the last 3 minutes of the pasta cook time, add the broccolini pieces in with the pasta and finish off cooking for 3 minutes.
Drain the pasta and broccolini and add to the tomato and sausage mixture.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Hello everyone! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. I have been neglecting this blog a bit lately, but I just paid my annual maintenance fees for it and that motivated me to keep this blog alive! I have been posting my cooking process on my Instagram stories about once a week, but I just never translate those stories into a blog post. I’m positive I’ve showed on my stories how to make this easy bolognese recipe before. This is a family favourite of ours, and I make it probably once every two weeks. It’s quick, it’s simple, it’s filling, and it calls for 1 cup of red wine which gives me an excuse to drink the rest of the bottle!
This is also my go-to main dish when my husband and I are having another couple over for dinner. Served with a salad and garlic toast, it’s more than enough to feed four ravenous adults.
This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Weeknight Bolognese recipe. I made a couple tweaks to the recipe. I don’t add fresh basil all of the time. I had a basil plant in my backyard and I would add basil to the recipe when my plant was alive and thriving. However, I managed to kill it off so now I add some dried basil to it instead. My main tweak to the recipe was to reduce the amount of wine added. I found that the extra 1/4 cup of wine that she calls for in her recipe is just a bit much and I could still taste the wine after it was done cooking. Considering I also feed this to my toddler, I didn’t think that was such a good thing. Also, 1/4 cup less wine in the recipe is 1/4 cup more wine for me to drink instead! Speaking of wine, I sometimes get asked what wine I use for my cooking. I cook with the same wine I would drink. And lately, it’s been this Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon. This retails for about $24 dollars in Regina, but whenever I go to Calgary I buy a case or two from the Costco liquor store. I was just in Calgary for the July long weekend, so my wine cabinet is stocked up with Liberty School. That should last me for another couple months until my next trip to Calgary at the end of August.
You can use any type of pasta you want, but I tend to use the bowtie pasta that you see in the pictures or this mafalda corta:
It’s the perfect shape to catch all the beefy goodness of the bolognese and it’s a fun shape for my toddler to grab onto.
Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. I’ll be making this again tonight!