They fried faster than a speeding pullet.

Minced garlic more powerful than a locomotive.And were able to keep baked noodles nicely-browned . . . .

THEY'RE SUPER CHEFS!

And this week a group of these novice noshers discovered for themselves that pasta is the perfect ego booster for fledgling cooks.

With oodles of noodles to choose from, pasta is a versatile foundation for a great meal.

This month, in honor of the annual No Books Day, when newspapers are used in classrooms throughout the state, we divided our readers recipe exchange entries among a panel of young palates. And they went to work cooking and critiquing the pasta dishes.

"I made it myself!" was the recurring summation among our gaggle of elementary to high school-age gourmets.

Their enthusiasm for the finished product was a marked change from the usual picky eater's anthem: "Oh, fer gross! . . . "

Pasta almost seems to unleash a mystical food-personality when it's cooked. It's friendly. Forgiving. You can top it with just about anything and come up with a hearty meal for two, a few, or the whole soccer team.

Our kid-cooks learned that it's not necessary to have every culinary skill sharpened to a cutting edge to feel OK in the kitchen.

John Lyman and cooking compatriot Jason Barlow read their rigatoni/pepperoni recipe, mixed the ingredients, and allowed themselves to indulge in a 25-minute Nintendo game while their food cooked.

There are some pasta basics that are helpful to young apprentices.

So, for all the young water-boilers out there, and even for more-experienced cooks, here are some no-fail tips:

PERFECT-PASTA POINTERS

The Right Way To Cook Dry Pasta:

1. Bring plenty of water - at least a quart for every four ounces of dry pasta - to an angry boil (Warning, kids: Do not take the anger personally. It's just one of those strange food personality manifestations. It means lots of bubbles.)

2. Add two teaspoons of salt per pound of pasta, if desired.

3. Stir the boiling pasta frequently, using a wooden fork or similar implement (chopsticks work great here!), to prevent sticking.

4. Do not cover! Do not run for cover!

5. Begin testing pasta for doneness after about five minutes. Pasta that's ready is "al dente" - "to the tooth" - meaning tender, yet firm. Do not overcook!

6. Drain the pasta in a colander (that's the roundish kitchen item with all the little holes punched in it.) DO NOT SUBSTITUTE A CALENDAR FOR A COLANDER!

7. Remember that pasta should be well-drained, combined with sauce, served and eaten within minutes of leaving the cooking pot.

Wierd Pasta Shapes Make Eating an Adventure

1. Boil a bowl of bow ties (farfalle).

2. Surprise the family with a mysterious meal of massive stuffed shells (conchiglie).

3. Impress your feasting friends with tiny tubes of pennette, the miniature "pens" that cook quickly and add real character to soups (there's that food-personality thing again!).

4. Thrill the older generation by cooking some spiral pasta that resemble small accordions (rotini). Tell them the urban legend that this particular pasta was Lawrence Welk's famous cohort, Myron Floren's, favorite food. Grandma and Grandpa will be so impressed!

And finally . . . use your status of being a kid - and a kidder - to your advantage.

Cook up a cup of teensy acini di pepe and announce to the family that the dessert du jour is "Frog Eye Salad."

Then wait for the response: . . .

"Oh, fer gross!" *****

RECIPES

FROG EYE SALAD

Submitted by Sara Rose Jolley (age 4), Alpine

Approximate cost: $3.80

Yield: 10 servings

Evaluation: This dessert salad made from tiny "acini di pepe" pasta (Italian derivation of "peppercorns.") Our recipe tester, Ridgecrest Elementary first grader Jackie Burt thought it was yummy. Since preparation is "pretty easy," she would try this recipe again.

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup pineapple juice (reserved from pineapple tidbits)

1 cup acini di pepe pasta (uncooked)

1 cup drained pineapple tidbits

12 ounces Cool Whip

1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir the sugar, flour, salt, egg, butter, lemon juice and pineapple juice in a saucepan until it comes to a boil. Cool. (It will thicken as it cools). Boil acini di pepe in water about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water. Dry. When all liquid is removed, add cooled mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Add Cool Whip, drained mandarin oranges, marshmallows and nuts, if desired.

- Each serving contains 336 calories, 12g fat, 52g carb, 382mg sodium, 22mg cholesterol.

EASY RIGATONI BAKE

Submitted by Pauline Roberts,

Lehi

Approximate cost: $ 7

Yield: 6 servings

Evaluation: Kristen Erekson, a student at Indian Hills Middle School, thought this easy recipe was delicious. It was a real hit with her family. This recipe can be varied by using other kinds of cheese.

3 cups #27 rigatoni macaroni pasta

8 ounces sharp Cheddar or Swiss cheese, in one piece

2 cups spaghetti sauce

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook rigatoni in rapidly boiling water 12 to 15 minutes, or until barely tender. Drain. Cut cheese into strips 11/4-inch long and 1/4-inch thick. Insert a piece of cheese in each rigatoni. Place in a shallow greased six-cup baking dish. Pour sauce over; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling hot.

- Each serving contains 196 calories, 9g fat, 13g carb, 659mg sodium, 31mg cholesterol.

NOODLE GOULASH

Submitted by Virginia McDowell,

Salt Lake City

Approximate cost: $4.15

Yield: 10 servings

Evaluation: Our Lindon Elementary recipe tester, Jerry Van Wagenen, thought that this thick "stew" was delicious and "very tasty." Served with homemade rolls, Jerry would like to try this easy recipe again.

8 ounces egg noodles

3/4 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

1/2 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup diced carrot

3/4 cup diced celery

1 cup diced Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic seasoning, optional

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 pint tomato juice and 1 pint tomatoes

OR

1 quart tomato juice and 1 6-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

Boil noodles until tender and drain. Brown ground beef and onion together and add to noodles. Boil carrots and celery for about 15 minutes or until tender. Add to noodle mixture along with rest of ingredients except cheese. Simmer on low about 1/2-hour or more. Toward serving time, add 1 tablespoon sugar and cheese. Heat 10 minutes.

- Each serving (using ground turkey) contains 245 calories, 9g fat, 24g carb, 305mg sodium, 68mg cholesterol.

INSIDE-OUT RAVIOLI

Submitted by Cathy Colton,

Orem

Approximate cost: $10

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: Canyon View 4th grader Rosalie Fisher said the flavor was really good. From start to finish, this dish took about 2 hours. Cathy Colton, our reader who sent us this recipe, commented, `this is the only way I get my sons to eat spinach."

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 jar (14 ounces) spaghetti sauce

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

1 can (4 ounces) mushrooms, drained

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained

1 package (16 ounces) corkscrew noodles, cooked and drained

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In large skillet cook beef with onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder until onion is tender. Drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste and mushrooms; simmer 10 minutes. Combine the spinach, noodles, eggs, bread crumbs and cheddar cheese; place half in a greased (spray with cooking spray) 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Top with half of the meat sauce. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Let stand 10 minutes to set.

- Each serving contains 558 calories, 28g fat, 37g carb, 1179mg sodium, 171mg cholesterol.

PEPPERONI RIGATONI

Submitted by Mimi Price,

Salt Lake City

Approximate cost: $7

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: In a never-before attempted feat of food excellence, a team of two East High sophomores prepared this winning recipe. They thought it was great, easy and flavorful. They suggest that more pepperoni could improve this already-tasty dish.

8 ounces rigatoni, cooked

1 cup sliced and quartered pepperoni

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 (26-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Layer half the ingredients, in the order listed, in a greased 9 X 13-inch baking pan, repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.

- Each serving contains 294 calories, 15g fat, 23g carb, 769mg sodium, 48mg cholesterol.

FETTUCCINE ALFREDO

Submitted by Diane Burton,

Farmington

Approximate cost: $3.60

Yield: 6 servings

Evaluation: Alta High sophomore Emily Erekson loved this rich and creamy pasta dish. She said the taste is fit for a king! (But serve it right away or it becomes dry.)

8 ounces packaged fettuccine noodles (although homemade pasta is best!)

4 tablespoons butter (no substitute)

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles in boiling salted water until al dente (barely done). Meanwhile, melt butter over high heat until butter is lightly-browned. Add 1/3 cup of the cream and boil rapidly until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to medium. Add cooked noodles. Mix gently. Add half the cheese and half of the remaining cream. Lift and mix pasta gently. Repeat with remaining cheese and cream. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

- Each serving contains 388 calories, 30g fat, 23g carb, 315mg sodium, 89mg cholesterol.

PASTA SALAD

Submitted by Dorothy Howes,

Salt Lake City

Approximate cost: $5

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: Goshen Elementary third grader Clinton Madsen had never eaten cold wax beans before but thought they were "pretty good." With simple preparation and a good flavor, he would like to try this recipe again.

1/2 package angel hair spaghetti

1/2 package vegetable spiral pasta (carrot and spinach)

1 stalk fresh green onion, chopped

1/2 can black olives, sliced

1 can yellow wax string beans

2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 package Italian dressing (prepared per package directions)

Cook pasta as suggested on package, drain and rinse. Combine all ingredients in bowl and refrigerate. Best if made the day before to allow ingredients to flavor.

- Each serving contains 70 calories, 2g fat, 12g carb, 618mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol.

SPAGHETTI PIE

Submitted by Cindy Jones,

Bountiful

Approximate cost: $5.25

Yield: 6 servings

Evaluation: "Pretty good," said West High School ELP 8th grader Maggie Lyman. She wasn't wild about the cottage cheese. Kitchen spies, however, have informed us that she had several helpings.

6 ounces spaghetti noodles

2 tablespoons margarine

2 beaten eggs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup cottage cheese

1 pound hamburger

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1 7 1/2 ounce can cut up tomatoes (blend in blender a few seconds before adding)

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti as directed, drain, stir in margarine, beaten eggs and Parmesan cheese. Form spaghetti into a crust in a 10-inch pie plate. Spread with cottage cheese. Brown hamburger, onion and green pepper. Drain off fat. Mix canned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, oregano and garlic salt. Spread over cottage cheese. Cover spaghetti crust edges with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.

- Each serving contains 460 calories, 23g fat, 31g carb, 801mg sodium, 135mg cholesterol.