Teach Kids How to Make Fresh Pasta
All it takes is a few ingredients, a little elbow grease, and a truly old-school playlist.
Our Kitchen Academy box “Oodles of Noodles” contains a delicious crash-course for kids on all things noodly, with quick and fun recipes for ramen and peanut sauce, a fold-out coloring map explaining the wide world of noodles, and more. When you’re talking noodles, of course, all roads do lead to Rome: Our main lesson teaches kids how to make fresh, Italian-style pasta. Scroll all the way down for the recipe.
In this activity, parents and kids can discover how pasta very literally gets its name: The word is Italian for “paste,” and this staple starts its life in this world as a simple combination of ingredients, kneaded into a dough and then pressed, extruded, or otherwise shaped into the forms we know and love. (Our approach allows kids to cut the dough into a variety of shapes.)
Making fresh pasta is something of a rite of culinary passage. As you and your young pastaio sally forth, consider putting on this sweet Renato Carosone playlist and letting the flour fly to the bumptious strains of “Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano.” It doesn’t get much better than that. Meanwhile, here are a few teachable talking points:
Fresh vs. dry
Why make pasta, versus boiling up the familiar dried version? You could explain that store-bought pasta doesn’t contain any eggs. For this fresh pasta, eggs add flavor and moisture, and help create a smooth, distinctive texture.
Knead to know!
As in our challah-making lesson and “I Loaf You” Kitchen Academy box, this process provides a chance to teach kids why we knead dough. (There are also ample opportunities for deliciously lame parental puns, which we all know kids adore.) The process of folding, stretching, and pressing dough develops gluten, the web of proteins that helps bread hold its shape.
Once you congratulate your Little Sous on making fresh pasta—definitely one of those next-level, kitchen-ninja feats worth bragging about, however old one may be—scroll below for an easy tomato-cream sauce, best served with grated Parmesan and torn basil leaves. (As you grate that Parm, don’t lose the opportunity to school the youth on the mysteries of umami!)