Note: Please welcome our new Cooking with Kids columnist Paula Disbrowe, author of the cookbook Cowgirl Cuisine. She'll be chiming in with recipes prepared with her two adorable sous chefs, Flannery and Wyatt. The steps will be kid-friendly, interactive, and safe for small hands. Take it away, Paula! —The Mgmt.
These turkey and kale meatballs are a big hit with my kids Flannery, three-years-old, and Wyatt, 18 months. It's easy to get in a rut serving kids bland proteins (poached chicken, roasted salmon, sliced turkey...) but these meatballs are full of flavor and they're a great way to sneak a healthy green vegetable into the mix.
The blanched, chopped kale add flavor, plenty of nutrients and also keeps the meatballs moist. Kid-friendly aromatics like lemon zest, nutmeg, and Parmesan round out flavors (if I was making them for adults I'd add a pinch of cayenne).
My kids are young, but that doesn't stop me from getting them involved and they cook with me all the time (OK, the three-year-old Flannery does; the baby plays with dough or mis en place in the high chair).
Flannery often sits on the counter alongside the cutting board and adds seasonings into the colorful bowl, and practices grating (although I keep an eye on the microplane). I love her to experience the sensual pleasures and aromas of the lemon zest, the nutmeg, the sharp and salty Parmesan. I let her crack the egg, even if it means fishing out a bit of the shell.
Kids aged five and older could help squeeze the water from the kale, get their hands in the awesome squishy mixture and help combine the ingredients, and even help shape meatballs. They can also (carefully) drop the browned meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce!
About the author: Paula Disbrowe is the author of Cowgirl Cuisine and co-author of Real Cajun, winner of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, T Style, and Southern Living, among other publications. She is the general manager of Feather Down Farm Days. She lives in Austin, Texas.