My kids LOVE mac and cheese and ask for it CONSTANTLY. They also love tomatoes and noodles and seem to “tolerate” asparagus. So, it made sense to combine these interests in this delicious three cheese pasta recipe. We have also been making a ton of salads recently so it was the perfect time to change things up with this quick and easy pasta dish!
This recipe only has 4 steps, and involves only a pan and a pot. It doesn’t get much simpler than that! There is a little chopping and zesting on the front-end, and then mostly cooking and combining of ingredients.
Naturally, our kids favorite part was being the taste testers. It is a three cheese pasta, after all. They loved snacking on the cheese and also the tomatoes during the meal-prep. And of course, there was copious noodle tasting.
🌈 KIDIFY THE MEAL 🌈
🍅Set aside some plain pasta! No matter what I make and how much they like it, my kids always want some plain pasta too.
🍅Customize veggie cook time! Some kids only like veggies raw; some like their tomatoes almost mushy. Whatever your family likes, you can increase or decrease the cook time we suggest. Or even set some veggies aside at the beginning to be eaten raw alongside the pasta.
🍴 MODIFY THE MEAL🍴
🍅Swap the pasta! The only ingredient in this dish that contains gluten for sure is the noodles. You can remedy this very easily. Some of the gluten-free noodle products I like are Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta (just be careful not to overcook cause it can get mushy) and Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. Another option is rice noodles.
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- 8 oz ricotta
- 1/2 cup parmesan (shredded) +extra for serving
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese (shredded)
- 16 oz fusilli pasta (or any pasta with grooves): rotelle, rotini, radiatori, cavatelli, etc.
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed & cut into 1/2" long pieces)
- 1 t salt
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
- 1 large lemon (1 t zest and 2 T juice)
- 1/2 t black pepper
Take your three cheeses out of the fridge and sit out on the counter to warm up. In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta according to instructions on package. Once done, set aside 1 cup of the pasta water and then strain the pasta. Leave pasta in strainer for now.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium pan/skillet on medium. Once heated, add olive oil. Then add asparagus. Cook for 3 minutes. Then add salt and tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 mins more. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in the empty pot you used for pasta, set heat at medium. Add the three cheeses, cup of pasta water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pepper. Stir consistently, slowly bringing heat down to low. Once cheese has melted, add ricotta. Stir until totally melted and combined.
Add cooked pasta, asparagus and tomatoes to the pot. Mix everything together and serve.
Serve pasta in bowl or plated. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan.
We recommend that all meals for children be served with milk.
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