Pepperoni Pizza Penne Pasta
Pepperoni Pizza Penne Pasta

Welcome to Eat Your Food!, our biweekly column of real meals made for real kids by Nick Evans.

Getting my kids to try new foods is a big goal of mine. Most kids don’t like new foods right away. They have to be exposed to them over and over again before they grow accustomed to new foods and maybe (MAYBE?!) even like them.

Sometimes I like to introduce flexibility and creativity to mealtimes by preparing familiar flavors but in a different format—such as this Pepperoni Pizza Penne!

What kid doesn’t love pepperoni pizza, right? And this has all the normal flavors of a classic, simple, kid-friendly pepperoni pizza, but with pasta instead.

Believe it or not, getting kids used to seeing foods in unexpected meals is a big step toward getting them to be adventurous eaters. This recipe takes a baby step in that direction with the benefit of being super fast to make.

THE DAD ADD

If I’m going to eat a helping of this pasta for myself, I make a spicy breadcrumb topper. It goes well on any pasta, honestly, but it gives some much-needed texture to this particular dish. Use it liberally!

REPORT CARD

I served this pasta in bowls to my 3 1/2-year old son and my 20-month old daughter. My daughter refused to eat it in a bowl, so hers was moved to a plate. I pick my battles during dinnertime and I let her win that one.

My two kids teamed up on this recipe. My daughter is a carb addict and focused solely on the pasta. My son was passing her pasta from his bowl and she was passing mini pepperoni right back. Dad ate the extra mozzarella.

If you walked in after dinner, you would’ve been convinced that both of them had eaten quite well, but really it was a victory in teamwork and not necessarily in dinner.

Mom and Dad had servings of the pasta (all parts included) with a side salad and a big sprinkle of the Crispy Breadcrumb Topper, and both were very happy with it. We had some leftovers, which we baked the following night into a small pasta casserole!

MORE WEEKNIGHT PASTAS

  • Easy Chicken Mac and Cheese
  • Pressure Cooker Pasta Primavera
  • Fettuccine Alfredo with Mushrooms
  • Chicken Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta
  • Pasta Skillet with Chicken Sausage, Cheese, and Spinach

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 ounces mini pepperoni (see Recipe Note)
  • 8 ounces mini mozzarella balls
  • Basil chopped, garnish

DAD ADD: Spicy Breadcrumb Topper

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

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