My little kids (and perhaps my older ones too) think that noodles in any form are the best thing ever. So when Gus saw that I was making three color penne for Tuesday night’s dinner, I thought he was going to jump for joy. The little kids were not impressed with Monday night’s greek meatballs and orzo salad (although I was extremely impressed, as were the older kids, and it’s a good thing too because that orzo recipe makes enough for 20 people even though it says it is for six). I was a bit concerned that they might not be impressed with Farmer’s Beans and Pasta (seriously? who named this dish?) either because of the aforementioned beans and the vegetables. I was happy to be wrong.
This pasta and bean dish is from Martha Stewart’s former kids’ magazine and I can safely say that everything that I’ve made over the years from this source has been a crowd pleaser with my kids. I was particularly happy that Farmer’s Beans and Pasta was (nearly) vegetarian. I substituted veggie broth for chicken to make my vegetarian happy but no other substitution was needed. That said, my husband may have used all of the zucchini in the gargantuan orzo salad on Monday night and I may have been too lazy to buy more at the store, so I had no zucchini to add to the pasta. No problem. I used spinach. I think the kids actually like it better anyway. (I know, right? Who would have thought kids would prefer spinach to something?)
As with all Martha Stewart recipes, especially for kids, I recommend cutting down on the onion. I used about a quarter of a large yellow onion (rather than a half as directed) and there was more than enough left on the side of my kids’ plates. I did use larger carrots and a bit more broth than directed. This may have been because I was trying to wash the twins’ hair while my vegetables were in the 10 minute simmer phase and I left the burner on too high, resulting in the evaporation of all available liquid. It could also be that the recipe just needs more juice.
This recipe calls for a half a pound of penne. I used a 12 ounce box, which provided the four of us with enough leftovers for at least two lunches. This after Lauren and I both had very decent portions and the twins both had seconds. The proportion of pasta to veggies looked pretty good here. I think less pasta might cause problems for your pickier eaters. I did have to negotiate a bit on getting the beans eaten. Just telling it like it is.
Overall, though, this was a sound choice for the kids. Good nutrients, not hard to make, quick weeknight meal that they enjoyed eating. I’m not sure that it was my favorite meal ever, but neither is kid favorite macaroni and cheese from a box. This recipe knocks that one off its feet in both nutrition and flavor. Give it a try mid-week. Maybe pin it for a little fall supper or meatless Monday. Let me know how it goes.