This is a great recipe for children to make, it is safe and easy and a lot of fun. Children can get familiar with the textures and smells of tomatoes while they work. Children often find the contrast between the squeaky skin and the soft flesh in a tomato difficult at first and this is a great way to get them to explore it.
Also, let's face it, it's hard to find anything as glorious as a homegrown or locally grown tomato, in season. The taste is wonderful. So why would you need to do anything complicated with it? Out of season, tinned tomatoes are a great way to make pasta sauce with a deep rich flavour. But in season, the fresh light tomatoeyness is what you're looking for. So this recipe not only helps children love tomatoes, but it tastes lovely too.
(serves 4 for a light lunch with children, or 2 adults as a main course)
200g dried pasta
Around 300g cherry tomatoes or whatever you have in your garden or kitchen
A bit of olive oil
Some basil leaves (but only if you have some)
Salt and pepper
Cheese if wanted
A pan for pasta
A deep bowl for squishing tomatoes
A board or plate and cheese grater if using
A long handled spoon (like a wooden spoon)
Ask a grown up to help you to cook the pasta according to the packet. You will have to get some water up to boil and then help or watch the pasta being poured into the boiling water without getting splashed. While it is cooking, give it a stir every few minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, make your sauce. Make sure you have clean hands!
Put the tomatoes in a big deep sided bowl.
You need to be able to stand high enough to reach down inside the bowl, so either kneel or stand on a chair, or put the bowl onto a chair and you can stand up. You need to get your hands right into it to SQUEEZE!
Squeeeeeeze the tomatoes. Do a couple at a time at first, because some of them will squirt you when they burst! That's why you want a deep sided bowl.
Once you have squeezed them all to burst you should be able to squidge bigger handfuls. Squish them until the tomatoes are all burst and crushed, if there are big pieces that just won't squish you can tear them with finger and thumb.
When your sauce is as lumpy or smooth as you want it, add some salt and pepper.
If you will be adding cheese, this is a good time for you to grate it so it is ready when the food is hot.
When the pasta is cooked, ask a grown up to drain it off and put it back into the pan straight away. Remember from now on to be careful and follow instructions because the pan is hot.
Tip the squished tomatoes into the cooked pasta and stir it around with a long wooden spoon. The hot pasta will warm the tomatoes through.
When it is stirred and warmed through you can drizzle a bit of olive oil on it. You won't really taste the oil, but it makes the tomatoes taste more tomatoey.
If you have got any basil leaves you can tear them into the pasta.
Ask a grown up to hold and tip the hot pan, and then use the big spoon to pull some pasta in to each of the serving bowls.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and eat while it is still warm!
If you have larger tomatoes or have a child who has texture issues with food, and they may struggle with skins in the sauce, you can remove them. This fun video from Craft Caravan shows how an adult can prepare the tomatoes and how children can remove the skins. It also shows the children enjoying squishing the tomatoes so it's a great video to get your child excited about making this recipe!