Bridge across generation gap is made of pasta Variation: Simple but two-tiered approach makes dish please diners of all ages.

November 06, 1996|By EATING WELL

How do you feed your family well night after night? Many concerned parents succumb to the short-order cook syndrome, preparing several dishes to accommodate the varying food preferences in the household. Of course, when time and energy are short, there's usually a dish or two that will please just about everyone, but how many nights a week can you eat pizza?

In speaking with parents, we discovered that another family favorite is tacos: the more finicky members of the group can take what they do like and leave off that which they don't.

Building on the taco concept, we took a two-tiered approach to meal preparation that uses the same list of ingredients to create a sophisticated dinner for the adults and a kid-friendly meal for the under-12 set. Here, a universal favorite -- pasta -- comes with components (butternut squash, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, olives and Canadian bacon) that should appeal to everyone; but for the deliciously adult dish, the squash is oven-roasted with lots of onions and fresh sage, and for the kids it's kept simple and separated.

For dessert, there's our creamy chocolate pudding -- funny how you don't need to have more than one offering when the choice is chocolate.

Pasta with roasted squash, onions and sage

Makes 2 servings

1 pound butternut or acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, 1/4 -inch thick (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon slivered fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 ounce Canadian bacon, cut into matchsticks ( 1/4 cup)

6 ounces dried pasta, such as bow ties or wheels

1 cup diced ripe tomatoes

3 tablespoons chopped green olives

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Position rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

On a baking sheet with sides, toss squash, onions, sage, oil, salt and pepper. Spread out in an even layer and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once, or until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Toward the end of cooking, stir in Canadian bacon.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add the roasted vegetables, tomatoes and olives; toss to combine. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 550 calories, 21 grams protein, 10 grams fat (2.7 grams saturated fat), 97 grams carbohydrate; 900 mg sodium; 14 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fiber.

Kid variation: plain pasta and other stuff

While preparing the above recipe, cut up extra ingredients for the kids. (As to exact quantities, we figure you are a far better judge of how much your little ones will eat.)

Put cheese, tomatoes, Canadian bacon strips and olives in separate small bowls.

Cook the kids' squash in the microwave. (Put 1 cup squash cubes in a glass dish, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes.)

For the pasta, choose a sturdy shape kids find amusing -- bow ties, wheels, fusilli -- and cook enough of it for the whole family.

When all is ready, spoon a healthy serving of pasta onto their plates, but then let them pick their choice of ingredients from the little bowls. Children are more willing to eat something if they feel that they have had a hand (literally) in choosing it.

Really low-fat garlic bread

Makes 4 servings

4 large cloves garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 baguette, cut in half lengthwise

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put garlic in a small saucepan with enough cold water to cover and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook 3 minutes and drain.

In a small bowl, mash the cooked garlic, oil and salt with the back of a spoon until a smooth paste forms. Spread the mixture over the cut surfaces of the bread.

Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake 4 to 6 minutes, or until the bread begins to brown around the edges. Slice and serve.

Per serving: 175 calories, 6 grams protein, 1 gram fat (0.2 gram saturated fat), 33 grams carbohydrate; 425 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fiber.

Chocolate pudding

Makes 2 cups, for 4 servings

1 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips (1 ounce)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan, whisk milk, brown sugar, egg, cocoa and cornstarch. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add chocolate chips and vanilla; stir until the chips have melted. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.

Per serving: 210 calories, 9 grams protein, 3 grams fat (0.5 gram saturated fat), 36 grams carbohydrate; 135 mg sodium; 57 mg cholesterol; 0 grams fiber.

Pub Date: 11/06/96

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