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Easy Recipe: Fun & Creative Veggie Pasta Dish for Kids

This post is sponsored by Country Crock. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Since our children have been able to eat solid foods, my husband and I have tried to introduce (and reintroduce) a variety of vegetables to them.  As a result, they all have their favorite vegetables to eat, especially ones that they have been enjoying for as long as they can remember.  It is much more difficult to get our children to try new vegetables now that they are older.  This is most likely true with most children.  I do not want to give up on adding to the list of veggies my children are willing to eat.  I just know that, if we can get them to try them, they may discover one or two new favorites.  That is why I am happy to find so many resources out there about fun ways to serve vegetables to children.

In addition to ideas I have seen on Pinterest, the Clare Crespo Cookbook is one of the best resources I have come across so far for creative kid-pleasing ways to serve veggies to children, ideas that I would never have thought of on my own, like veggie campfires, rocket ships, and boats.  The recipe I am sharing with you today is based on Clare Crespo's "Pasta Full of Posies" recipe.  I did make a few changes, such as using more olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese plus cooking the tomatoes to suit my own family's taste.  Also, if I were to make this recipe again, I would add basil, so I have adjusted the recipe accordingly below.

Recipe:  Veggie Flower Pasta

1 box whole wheat penne pasta
2 yellow peppers
3 Tbsp Country Crock Spread
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 baby spinach leaves
5 or more cherry tomatoes, halved

Step 1.  Cut the peppers in half, remove the ends and the seeds, and wash them.  Then cut them into strips about 1-1/2" wide.  From there, cut out your flower petal shapes (5 petals per flower).

Step 2.  Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.

Step 3.  Boil the pasta according to package instructions.

Step 4.  Melt the Country Crock Spread in a large skillet over medium heat.  Then add the olive oil, basil, and minced garlic.  Heat the garlic 1 to 2 minutes or until the garlic becomes very aromatic.

Step 5.  Cook the pepper petals in the garlic mixture for about 5 minutes.  Then remove them from the skillet with tongs and set aside.

Step 6.  Briefly cook the tomato halves in the garlic mixture until they have softened just slightly.  Then remove them from the skillet with tongs and set aside separately from the peppers.

Step 7.  Turn off the heat.  Then add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss in the garlic mixture.

Step 8.  Let the pasta cool slightly for 2 to 3 minutes.  Then toss with the grated Parmesan.

Step 9.  Put the pasta in a large pasta bowl.  Then arrange the vegetables into flowers on top of the pasta, using the tomato halves as the centers, the peppers as the petals, and the baby spinach as the leaves.  (Any extra pieces of tomatoes and peppers can be used to serve the adults.)

I switched to using Country Crock Spread years ago, not just because it is much easier to spread on rolls, toast, and waffles, etc . . . , but also because it tastes just as good as butter to my family.  Before I knew it, I used it to both cook and bake as well.  At the time, I did not even know that Country Crock Spread has 70% less saturated fat and 30% fewer calories than butter and that it has 0g trans fat.  Of course, my children do not care about all that.  They only know that what I cook tastes good to them (even vegetables).

Are you looking for quick and simple tips and recipes to make serving veggies more fun? Download the free Clare Crespo Cookbook here for fun and whimsical recipes your family is sure to love!  You can find additional tips and recipes at The Crock Country Chronicle, as well as the Country Crock Facebook page and Twitter feed.