Pasta with Vegetables and Pine Nuts
From Joan Nathan: author, The Jewish Holiday Baker (Schocken Books, 1997)
Jewish Cooking in America (Knopf, 1994; update 1998)
The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen (Schocken Books, 1987; expanded edition, 1995)
An American Folklife Cookbook (Out of Print - Schocken Books, 1984)
Jewish Holiday Kitchen (Schocken Books, 1979; paperback, 1981; expanded edition, 1989)
The International Pasta Cookbook (Out of Print - Dorison Publications, 1977)
The Flavor of Jerusalem (Out of Print - co-author, Little Brown and Company, 1975)

>>> Joan Nathan's Holiday Recipes on StarChefs

Adapted by

Some of my family's best conversations happen in the kitchen while we're busy stirring pots of soup, kneading bread dough and chopping onions. All of us live in a fast-paced world where everyone orders out so much, but the process of cooking is as important as the meal itself. That's why more often than not, I don't cook FOR my children, but WITH them. When my children were very young, I would help them measure, pour and stir while they would share the delights and disappointments their expanding worlds with me. Now that they're 21, 17 and 14, cooking together still provides a bridge between my worlds and theirs. With the kitchen as the backdrop, we more easily share stories and memories, solve problems and make plans. By cooking and eating together as a family, not only do you enjoy a better meal, but it bonds your family together - and your kids learn manners naturally! Through preparing and sharing our family food together over the years, our family history and traditions have been passed on naturally to my children. Now, along with our love, they take some favorite recipes, warm memories and enduring family traditions with them as they venture further and further out into the world.

These are recipes that my children, even when very young, have always helped prepare. I encouraged them to measure, wash food, add ingredients, mix and stir -- either with my help or, as they grew, on their own. Their interest and abilities in the kitchen grew along with them.

Yield: 4-6 Servings

  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 cups fresh green beans or other vegetables (broccoli and carrots are also favorites)
  • 1/2 pound pasta in different shapes and colors
  • 4 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated imported parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated pepper to taste

Cut or pull the chicken breasts into small pieces. Heat a medium sauté pan over a medium- high heat. Brush both sides of each tortilla very lightly with the oil. Cook each tortilla on both sides until they crisp lightly. Don't be alarmed when they puff-up.

Lightly pat them and they will deflate (this is fun for the kids to watch). Lay two of the tortillas side-by-side on a cookie sheet or baking pan large enough to accommodate them both without overlapping. Spread the cheddar cheese evenly over each tortilla. Add the chicken then sprinkle with cilantro. Add the tomatoes, then the white cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas. Bake in a pre-heated 400° oven, turning once with a large metal spatula, for eight to ten minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and press each quesadilla firmly. This will make them easy to cut and prevent the filling from escaping. Cut into one- sixth wedges and take a trip south of the border!

*Tips When Cooking With Kids:

1) Cut new things into the smallest pieces possible. This will tone-down the initial flavor impact of the new ingredient.

2) Do not force or even encourage a child to taste the raw product first. The reasoning behind this approach is to temper the tastebuds by introducing flavors gradually through mediums that their palates already understand. There is a thin line between encouragement and prodding. Test them on the raw ingredients only when they are ready.

3) Have lots of fun. Be very up beat and play on the journey. There is a reason why children generally do better in geography than math. World travel and great chefs go hand in hand. Come to think of it, I don't believe I know any mathematician/chefs.



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