Roast chestnut, squash & kale penne with tapenade (page 154)

Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids

  • Scoop the seeds out of the butternut squash.
  • If they’re a bit older, they can possibly help peel the squash with a speed peeler. Do this with them and be careful as it is quite hard to do.
  • Put the chopped squash onto a baking tray.
  • Measure vegetable oil.
  • Mix the squash with the oil until the squash is well coated.
  • Weigh cooked & peeled chestnuts. (If you need them to spend a bit more time on it you could also get them to count the chestnuts for fun.) 
  • Peel the onion. Start the child off by cutting off the tops with a knife. Then peel the skin just enough to give them something to grip and then pull off. This is extremely satisfying at any age.
  • Peel the garlic. Jake and James love banging it to loosen the skin first.
  • Weigh penne.  
  • Weigh kale. 
  • Measure the tomato puree. (Careful here. My boys love doing this, they call it the tomato toothpaste and I have to watch them so that they squirt slowly. It can be messy.)
  • Blend the puree in a covered blender, not with a stick, with as much supervision as they need.
  • Measure ricotta. 
  • Measure tapenade. 



My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary

Jake 4 years 10 months, James 2 years 2 months


I was coming to the end of this chapter and we ended up with this at the table at the same time as the sweet potato tart. Jake ate it all with gusto and James ate the pasta with the flavours of the squash and chestnuts but not the actual squash and chestnuts. This is a variation of a recipe I made for a recipe video. I checked my notes and when I first cooked it he ate everything, the only difference being that there were sunblush tomatoes added and I made it with orzo and macaroni rather than penne. 

I’m spreading my support net a little and this morning our child minder suggested looking at the times we give him milk. The milk is very filling and perhaps we give him too much of it. I agreed with her, took James home  and then I realised that I had to give him his milk if I was going to get him to sleep in time so that he didn’t get overtired and I could go back to work. So I did and he went to sleep and later on he ate a whole plate of baked beans, cheerful as anything, laughing as he did. I tried very hard to enjoy the moment. 

Since I was introduced to them through my work as the Merchant Gourmet cook, I use these pre-cooked chestnuts often, either whole or in purees and soups. During the last couple of years I’ve used them in combination with celeriac, potato, sweet potato, parsnip, carrot and onion, at one stage or another James has eaten all of these. He’ll be fine, the desire will return. I just have to calm down.