- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Summer activities for children are the subject of articles in just about every magazineIs there a Hunting and Fishing? I couldn’t find one on Google. 2. If so, it sounds plausible that it does talk about summer activities for children. — tl I can’t find one either.cw#, it seems. An outpouring of suggestions runs the gamut from arts-and-crafts projects to family outings to getting a leg up on next year’s math.

In case you think you’ve escaped the what-to-do-with-the-children advice by taking refuge in a cooking column, then surprise, I have a suggestion, too.

As a children’s cooking teacher, I am always on the lookout for fun, healthy and instructional kitchen projects to inspire youngsters to become more comfortable and fluent in a culinary setting.

Although I encourage you to cook with your children during the school year as well, I really appreciate the extra time and relaxation that are often available during the summer months.

By August, your children may be a bit bored with some of the activities laid out earlier in the summer, making this a great time to pull out a recipe and delicately suggest, “Put on an apron and get to work.” Or you could just hand your child a big bowl of leftover cooked spaghetti and scissors, and let him or her start snipping away without prodding.

This is a long way of saying that this recipe is so much fun that prodding will not be necessary.

Spaghetti pie is an ideal recipe for summer because it uses fresh basil and tomatoes, which are abundant in August.

Leftovers are a great springboard for a cooking project, and that is how this recipe was born.

I just couldn’t bring myself to throw away the leftover cooked spaghetti one night after a dinner guest canceled at the last minute. (I strongly recommend planning on making extra food in general. I call this concept “deliberate leftovers,” so you can reap several meals from a single effort.)

Spaghetti pie makes a lovely lunch or dinner when served with a crisp green salad and fresh bread.

Peach melba makes a perfect dessert. Just spoon some sliced peaches over your favorite vanilla ice cream and sprinkle a handful of perfect raspberries on top.

Two tips: As with any cooking project that involves children, an adult must be present in the kitchen to preside over all activities. Placing the pan in the oven and taking it out are adult-only activities.

Spaghetti pie

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups cooked spaghetti (8 ounces uncooked)

1 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced

cup grated Parmesan cheese

10 fresh basil leaves

cup grated mozzarella

Sliced black olives, optional

Fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, optional

Thin slices of bell pepper, optional

Measure olive oil into a 10-inch pie pan, and brush the oil to distribute around the pan.

Place spaghetti in a large bowl; use scissors to snip it into bite-sized pieces. Pour in the tomatoes, and sprinkle in the Parmesan. Pile the basil leaves together; hold the pile over the bowl; and snip the leaves into tiny pieces, letting them fall right into the spaghetti mixture.

At this point, if you like, you can add about a handful each of sliced olives, mushrooms and bell pepper. Stir everything together with a long-handled spoon or fork. You can also use tongs. Stir it slowly so it won’t splash.

Transfer spaghetti mixture to prepared pan, spreading it in place. Sprinkle the top with grated mozzarella.

Put the pan on the center rack, and bake it in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

To serve, cut in wedges as you would any pie. This tastes good hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes about 4 servings but can easily be multiplied.


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