Greek Noodle Bowl
Neko eats a lot of pasta. She calls noodles “noo noo,” and they’re one of her favorite foods ever. In any form. Sadly, most pasta doesn’t offer much when it comes to nutritional value. I usually try to boost her pasta’s nutritional value by adding cheese for protein and tossing in some veggies for vitamins and all that other good stuff.
But I’ve learned that there are a few options when choosing pastas that can help boost a noodle’s nutritional value. (And I’m not talking about whole wheat pasta. While I greatly prefer whole wheat bread to white, when it comes to pasta, I just can’t get on board.)
When I was pregnant and following the Brewer Diet (A high protein diet that I highly recommend to pregnant ladies. The energy boost it gives you is amazing.), I had a hard time getting in the suggested 80-100 grams of protein per day. It led me to read labels on everything at the store, and that’s how I found high-protein pasta.
High protein pasta is made with chickpea flour and it does not taste any different than regular pasta. I promise. It’s not a fancy ingredient you have to go to a special store to find. And it packs 40 percent more protein into a cup of noodles than your traditional pasta. So it’s worth keeping on hand.
When I recently saw a package of tricolor spinach, tomato and plain noodles at the store, I grabbed it, thinking it’d be another way to add an extra boost to the kid’s diet. But when I got home and compared labels, I learned that even the spinach pasta barely adds any nutritional value over plain pasta. Oh, well. At least it’s pretty!
And I think the colors actually enticed Neko to eat more than she would have; she loved picking out the green noodles first.
I know that colorful noodles are something that a lot of kids would shy away from. They’re different! They don’t look like normal pasta! Neko’s pediatrician told us that the more foods we introduce her to now, the less likely she is to avoid new things in the future. So at the very least, perhaps this rainbow pasta will help me someday when a waiter brings out a bowlful of green pasta and I don’t have to convince my kid that it’s actually edible.
Of course, you can use any pasta for this Greek Noodle Bowl. I threw this lunch together after being reminded of a similar dish that now closed (and much lamented by me) Austin restaurant Mars used to serve.
All of the ingredients are favorites of Neko’s (cheese, olives, tomatoes, noo-noo), so I wasn’t surprised that it was a hit. Mars’ version used linguini, but I have to cut those noodles up so Neko doesn’t gag on them, and she’s not so patient with me when I do that. Hence the use of fusilli here. Mars also included green onions in their noodle bowl. I had none, so I threw in parsley, which Neko picked out piece by piece. You can’t win them all!
Greek Noodle Bowl
2 cups dried pasta
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup sliced green onions or chopped parsley
2 T olive oil
Cook the pasta, then drain and run under cool water to bring to room temp.
Toss the pasta with all of your veggies and cheese, then drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This amount made enough for Neko and I each to have two lunches.