Red, yellow, orange and green are the colors of a late summer's garden — and the produce section of the grocery store. The ultimate goal for health-conscious parents is trying to get the colorful, vitamin-rich vegetables that are abundant and reasonably priced right now into their kids. Well, here's a strategy that worked for me. Make the green and yellow zucchini and the red or green bell peppers taste like a flavor they love: pizza. When I got my kids involved in the creation and preparation of this recipe, they gobbled up the meal and asked for more.
ITALIAN STUFFED VEGETABLES
Makes 4 servings
10 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped green or red pepper
1 cup favorite pasta sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 green and 1 yellow zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 green or red pepper
1 shredded carrot (optional)
An adult or older child may saute the sausage until crumbled and lightly browned. Add the onions and chopped pepper. Continue to cook one minute until soft. Add the sauce and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Transfer into a bowl and set aside.
Let your child scoop out the insides of the zucchini and yellow squash with a spoon or a small ice-cream scoop. They'll love digging around. Then make some "pepper pockets" by cutting the green or red pepper into quarters, then in half again. Let the kids remove any of the seeds.
The meat mixture should be cool enough for children to spoon into the cavities of the squash and into the nooks of the pepper. Set each one in a large cookie sheet or baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and, for more color, the shredded carrots if you wish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Serve with garlic sticks.
Tip: Onions are nothing to cry about if you leave the root end intact while cutting up the rest of the onion.
© Donna Erickson