Friday, August 8, 2014

Building a More Colorful Plate with Purple Pasta

We have been trying to mix things up around here and introduce the boys to some new things, and what I have found is that just because I think a meal or a food arrangement looks appetizing, it doesn't mean my kids will agree.

A 2012 Cornell study found that children are most attracted to food plates with seven different items and six different colors, while adults tend to prefer only three items and three colors. So a basic dinner of grilled chicken, broccoli, and steamed rice wouldn't be very appealing to a child. But mix that meal up a bit with some colorful fruits and veggies, and they will be more inclined to eat it. Something like Rainbow Rice or Tri-color Sweet Potatoes will add color to the plate and encourage more nutritionally diverse eating in your kids.

So one trick I like to use that adds color to a normally colorless food item is to finish cooking pasta in red wine. The alcohol burns off and what you are left with is a beautiful purple pasta! We topped it with some sauteed orange bell peppers, green olives, and bright white feta. Just right there you have 4 colors and a lovely looking side dish. Pare it with grilled chicken or fish, and some bright green steamed broccoli and you have a basic meal (pasta, chicken, and broccoli) that looks tastier to your child than it otherwise would.

The study is published in the January issue of Acta Paediatrica (101:1)

Red Wine Pasta

1 box of pasta
1 bottle of red wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Salt to taste
1 large or 2 small bell peppers, chopped {I used 1 large orange pepper}
Crumbled Feta and chopped olives to garnish

Cook your pasta in boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes.
Return the pasta to the pot and add in the red wine. Cook in boiling red wine until Al Dente. The wine will reduce some as you cook.
While the pasta cooks, add olive oil to a saute pan, and warm.
Add in onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt. Saute for 4-5 minutes.
Add in the bell pepper and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Remove the pasta, drain, and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
Top the pasta with the red pepper, onion, garlic mixture.
Top with feta and Kalamata olives before serving.

An impressively simple dinner side dish on the table in 30 minutes.


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