If you're slaving away in the kitchen every night only to have your children refuse to eat what you make, chef Jonathon Sawyer is here to help. With the Greenhouse Tavern, Trentina and Noodlecat under his chef's apron, he still finds time to cook at home for his wife and two children. He's put those tips and tricks into his first cookbook, Noodle Kids ($24.99, Quarry Books), filled with 50 noodle-centric recipes from around the world. "This is less of a cookbook, and more of a home bible for teaching families how to come together over food," he says. "The closer kids are to food, the more likely they are to eat it." Sawyer dishes some of his favorite examples from the book.
To market we will go. Sure you take your child to the grocery store with you, but let them be part of the process by dividing and conquering. "Ask your child to pick out the ingredients for the recipe," Sawyer says. "The idea of giving a kid a shopping list is very empowering."
Throw a ramen party. Set up a condiments table and include a variety of broths and fixings — from broccoli and edamame to even hot dogs. Invite your kids' friends and encourage them to build their own ramen bowls. "This is a guaranteed way to get your kids to eat vegetables," Sawyer says. "There's something rebel-y about making a dish where there's no rules, except to make sure you choose two veggies."
Get your pasta on. Forget about buying frozen ravioli. Making these from scratch is a cinch, as long as everyone participates. Allow your kids to choose a task. "Ravioli can be intimidating to make if you don't have a systemic process in place," Sawyer says. One person can roll out the dough, while another prepares the filling. "See if your child wants to grate the cheese," he says. "It sounds menial, but it's fascinating to them."
Go for no-fuss gnocchi. These versatile, bite-sized dumplings involve two or three ingredients (eggs, flour and a component of your choice such as ricotta or ground beef) and one pot. They're easy to prepare, and an ideal introduction into pasta-making. "Gnocchi are light, fluffy and singsongy," Sawyer says. "We make a lot of potato gnocchi at home and pair it with my son's favorite meaty ragu."