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Get The Little Ones Excited About Dinner With This Trick

Wagon wheels, orecchiette, nodi marini - these pastas are even more fun than the names suggest


It's no secret that kids can be picky eaters, and getting them to eat a nutritious dinner can oft be a struggle. The key is making it a fun eating experience, and our method is reaching for these cute pasta shapes! In any recipe that calls for a short pasta, like penne or rigatoni, you can sub in any of these toothsome little pastas to make it extra kid-friendly. 
 
Wagon Wheel
You could nestle these noodles with just about any veggie and make it more appealing to kids! Any pasta dinner will get a complete kid-friendly makeover by swapping out a box of penne for one of these. 
Wagon Wheel Pasta with Pancetta & Peas
Wagon Wheel Pasta with Pancetta & Peas
Cellentani 
Elbow noodles with a twist! These fun swirly shapes add some dynamic movement to any pasta recipe. 
Orechiette
These "little ear" pastas are great for so many reasons. They cook up almost more like a pillow dumpling than a pasta, and their shapes are perfect for holding sauce and making an extra delicious bite. We love to use this pasta shape with other small-cut ingredients, like ciciglience mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, for a perfectly even bite!
Orechiette & Mini Chicken Meatballs
Orechiette & Mini Chicken Meatballs
Nodi Marini/Trottole 
This is one of Giada's favorite pasta shapes in general, because the shape holds sauce so well. It's gaining popularity, and while it was once exlusive to Italy, it's cropping up at our regular grocery stores everywhere! Serve these with bolognese or alfredo for a super toothsome, satisfying bite that's fun and different. Fun fact: "nodi marini" means "marine knot"!
Elbows
What does every kid (and adult) associate with elbow noodles? Mac 'n' cheese, of course! Sub out any short pasta with macaroni to get the little ones immediately a bit more excited about dinnertime.
Italian Baked Chicken & Pastina
Italian Baked Chicken & Pastina
Gluten Free: Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
Kids that can't eat gluten aren't going to miss out on the fun! We love this brown rice pasta so much, even us gluten-eaters love it and make it regularly for an extra kick of fiber. It cooks up exactly the same as wheat pastas, and tastes nearly identical - not mushy at all, no strange taste... it's uncanny. It even comes in extra-fun shapes for kids!

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