Top Chefs Kids Menu: Spaghetti made with vegetables


by KIM HOLCOMB / Evening Magazine

Bio | Email | Follow: @KimHolcomb

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 4:00 PM

Some kids naturally like vegetables. But if your kid isn't one of them, this recipe might help!

It looks and tastes like spaghetti, but packs a lot more nutrition into every bite - zucchini spaghetti with meat sauce.

The recipe comes from Ericka Burke, mom to 3-year-old Finn and chef/owner of Volunteer Park Cafe on Capitol Hill.

"It was a grocery store in the neighborhood for almost 100 years," she said. "My philosophy with food is fresh, seasonal, locally sourced, not overly sauced, really let the ingredients speak for themselves."

She also believes in letting her son find his way around a kitchen early - with proper supervision.

"I think it's really important," she said. "A lot of people are afraid to have their kids touch knives, obviously it's a little scary, but I think learning how to use them properly, eventually it will serve them well."

It also serves a purpose for Ericka's recipe. Zucchini takes the place of noodles. She and Finn use a hand peeler to julienne the zucchini, slicing it into long, thin ribbons.

The Ericka begins cooking bulk Italian sausage in a pan.

"So we're going to brown the meat so it's a medium rare, and then add the (tomato) sauce," she said.

She also adds carrots, which she'll remove before serving - she just wants their sweetness to seep into the sauce. Ericka lets the sauce simmer for about 40 minutes. Then she melts butter, adds torn basil leaves, and strains it into the sauce for added flavor.

The last step is cooking the squash-posing-as-spaghetti.

"(Finn) loves to slurp the spaghetti and he can do it with this, so it just makes something fun," she said.

Ericka sautees the zucchini in butter for a couple of minutes until it's al dente. Finally, she adds grated cheese.

Ericka believes eating well doesn't have to be complicated, even for a top chef.

"When we're at home, we just want to be simple and nourished," she said, watching Finn eat. "There's no pretension."

Finn’s Zucchini “Spaghetti” with Red Sauce & Sausage
(Serves 4)

4 each zucchini, julienned with a julienne peeler or mandolin
1 pound Italian sausage, bulk or links, in small pieces
2 cups organic strained tomatoes, (I like Bionaturae brand)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2” pieces
¼ pound butter, plus one tablespoon
½ cup basil, hand torn leaves
3 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a saucepan, cook sausage until lightly brown and then add tomato sauce, two teaspoons salt and gently simmer with cut carrots for 40 minutes.  Discard carrots.
2. Meanwhile, melt ½ pound butter and one teaspoon of salt with the basil.  On a low simmer, cook down for 10 minutes.
3. Strain butter into tomato sauce and discard basil leaves.
4. Julienne the zucchini down to the seed section, save seed section for another use.
5. Sauté julienned zucchini in 1 T butter until tender, approximately 4 minutes.
6. Divide between four serving plates, and top with tomato and sausage sauce. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese over top. Serve warm.
7. Enjoy!