Beef up the Pasta
How to Make Homemade Pasta

by Elaine of knows how important it is to involve kids in the process of cooking food, because the further they are removed from the food chain the fussier they are likely to be. Also meatballs and pasta has to be the ultimate comfort food and the kids love it. It is an adaptable recipe that can be changed to suit your family’s tastes.

I taught all my kids to cook pasta when they were about five and they loved it. For the sake of a tidy kitchen I mixed the dough for them until they were about nine but I let them use the pizza machine. They thought that rolling out the dough was fantastic and because it is time consuming it kept them occupied for hours.

Flavored pastas were great. They loved pumpkin and beetroot because of the vibrant colors, though they would eat spinach pasta if they had made it. It was a small step but one that increased their fiber immediately.

Because we made homemade pasta we could use unprocessed flour such as whole wheat. That made a pasta that keeps you fuller for longer as it has a low glycemic index and the sugars were released more slowly. Foods which are high in the wrong types of carbohydrates cause a sugar spike and long term sugar spikes can lead to diabetes. However, if you do not have time to make pasta use the meatballs and tomato with fresh store-bought pasta.

The pasta sauce was great as well because the kids loved color and the foods that are colorful are also sweet food such as grated carrot, red bell peppers, and butternut squash. These were added to the sauce and they wolfed it down because those foods with the tomato made the sauce naturally sweeter and more palatable. When making the pasts sauce I also added 25 grams of pulses (usually yellow split peas) which is another way of increasing the fiber and it got lost in the sauce.

Homemade meatballs are easy to make and you can make them exactly to your children’s taste but not lose any flavor. For instance, if you have a child who does not like onion, then you can try one of two things. First you can chop the onion so finely that it is not noticeable. However you may not necessarily get away with that. Most children can take finely chopped leek which has a milder onion flavor so this is a great alternative. It is also easy to hide grated zucchini in meatballs.

Now for the question of the type of meat to use for your meatballs. Pork and beef meatballs are tastier than beef alone. Unfortunately you do not know what has gone into commercially bought ground beef. It is easy to choose a piece of pork and beef and get the butcher to grind them for you. If that is too much aggravation then use healthy ground turkey instead.

Meatballs need some padding to hold them together and bread was the old fashioned way. It is a healthier option to use brown bread or use old fashioned oats which again have a healthy low glycemic index.

The kids love making meatballs because they are best mixed by hand as they love squishing it through their little hands. If you have not got time to make meatballs then make meatloaf and cut into cubes in the pasta sauce. To make the meatloaf grease a loaf tin and cook the meat for about an hour.

Basic Meatballs


1 1/2 pound lean ground meat
1 egg plus 3 egg whites
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 ounce of cooked lentils
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 onion or leek shredded
1 1/2 cup shredded carrot
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a couple of dashes of hot pepper sauce or
a handful of soft fresh herbs such as oregano, basil, marjoram
a can of passata or chopped tomatoes

Tomato Sauce

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 red onion, sliced
400 grams canned chopped tomatoes
200 grams passata
salt and pepper
a pinch of sugar
a handful of fresh basil leaves
homemade pasta
450 grams wholemeal bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil


Shred the zucchini, leeks and carrots. Place on paper towels in a colander while you make the pasta so that the paper can absorb the water in the zucchini. Turn on oven to 375F (180C) degrees. Mix all the ingredients together and roll into small balls about the size of golf balls. Kids love to thread them on skewers as well which adds to the visual appeal and therefore the attraction. Fry in oil until they are browned and then cook them in the oven for about twenty minutes.


Fry the onion in the olive oil until it is translucent but not browned. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for a minute. Add the canned tomatoes, passata, a little salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes. Tear the basil leaves and add them as well as a pinch of sugar. Place the meatballs in the sauce and gently heat through.


Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the center add the eggs and the oil. Stir well from the middle incorporating the flour slowly. Knead for a few minutes until it becomes shiny. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest for an hour in the fridge.

Clamp your pasta machine to the largest clean surface area you have in the kitchen. Dust your work surface with flour, take a lump of pasta dough the size of a orange and press it out flat. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting and roll the lump of pasta dough through it, joining the ends. Lightly dust the pasta with flour to stop it sticking.

Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times, working down to the lowest setting. This rolling process activates the gluten and makes wicked pasta. If you're making pasta like tagliatelle or lasagna the dough should be as thick as a playing card.

Once made pasta dries out in minutes. If you are delayed then pop it into a bowl with a wet tea towel on top.

Chefs Tip: When allowing the kids to make pasta, place the dough in pasta machine and roll it a little, then join the ends so that it just goes around in a continuous loop for a cleaner kitchen.

This article provided courtesy of Best Cookware Help - a helpful consumer guide to cookware.

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