Getting kids excited to eat more vegetables is really all about how you market dinner. For example, this back-to-school meal is actually just a 30-minute, one-pot, veggie-packed pasta, but call it Confetti Spaghetti and it will be gobbled up twice as fast.
This miracle meal was born, as most of them are, out of desperation. We were having our last summer hurrah the weekend before school started, so there was no time for grocery shopping. When it came time for a quick dinner after the first day of school, we turned to the half a bag of broccoli slaw and the box of pantry spaghetti. Combined, it became our new go-to meatless Monday dinner.
Make the Most of Bagged, Spiralized, or Frozen Vegetables
Here's the thing to love the most about Confetti Spaghetti: You can use almost any kind of shredded vegetables, as long as you stick with the same ratio of pasta to water and vegetables. We have sliced carrots and slaw (either broccoli or kale) on hand most often, but we've also used spiralized vegetables (cut into two-inch pieces with scissors) and frozen vegetables with great success.
Be sure that the vegetables and pasta are mostly covered by the water to ensure they cook evenly. Then, use the starchiness of the cooking water to make a near-instant sauce by stirring in a grated hard cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino just before serving.
Serves 3 to 4
Prep time: 10 minutes ; cooking time: 12 minutes
shredded vegetables, such as broccoli slaw or kale slaw
medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
dry spaghetti, broken into thirds
shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the slaw and peppers and cook 1 minute more.
Add the spaghetti, water, salt, and garlic powder. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the mixture down a few times so that the spaghetti and vegetables are completely submerged in the water. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.
Uncover and continue to cook, stirring vigorously to make sure the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom and cooks evenly, until the water is mostly absorbed by the pasta, the vegetables are tender and bright, and the pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.