I had a birthday party for my one year old a few weeks ago. I needed a menu that she could partake in but at the same time would be appropriate for the adults in attendance. I ran across both of these recipes a while back while watching Food Network (my favorite channel!) and kept it in the back of my head for just such an occasion. The meatball sandies are perfect for little ones since it is easy to eat and is relatively healthy. (The kids in attendance really enjoyed the sweet roll that it was tucked in!) The pastina with peas and carrots is so creamy and smooth. I think it tastes great warm or cold. I served both along with a fruit salad, chocolate milk, pink lemonade and cupcakes.
Recipe Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ketchup, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 12 (2 1/2 inch diameter) sweet dinner rolls, halved (recommended: King’s Hawaiian)
Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, oil, 1 tablespoon ketchup, cheese, salt, and pepper. Add the ground beef and gently stir to combine. With damp hands, roll the mixture into 12 mini meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
Slice each roll in half, but do not slice all the way through. Slice a meatball in half and put inside the roll. Add about 1 teaspoon of ketchup to the meatballs and cover with the top half of the roll. Repeat with the remaining rolls and filling.
Note: I tripled the recipe so that I would have extra meatballs to freeze.
Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) pastina or other small-shaped pasta, such as farfallini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (I used fresh dill since that is what I had)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until the peas are warmed through and the carrots are tender. Stir in the cooked pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheeses. Stir until the mixture is incorporated and forms a sauce. Season with salt, to taste. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped basil (or dill).