30 minutes or fewer
If kids balk at eating the bell pepper skulls of these brainy creations, rinse them well after serving, then cut into strips for snacks later on.
- 6 small red or green bell peppers
- 8 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti
- 4 Tbs. creamy peanut butter, plus more for assembly
- 2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
- 1 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. agave nectar or honey
- 1 cup finely diced cucumber, optional
- 2 finely diced Roma tomatoes (1 cup)
- ¼ cup chopped green onions, optional
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
- 3 ½-inch-thick slices white Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 ¼-inch-thick slices white Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 nori sheet, for decoration
- 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds, optional
1. Slice tops off bell peppers, and scoop out seeds and veins. Chop flesh from tops, and set aside to add to cooked pasta, if desired.
2. Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Rinse spaghetti under hot water, and drain again.
3. Place peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, and agave nectar in large bowl. Whisk in reserved 1/2 cup hot pasta cooking water until mixture is smooth. Stir in spaghetti until coated with sauce. Fold in cucumber (if using), tomatoes, green onions, and red pepper flakes (if using); add chopped bell pepper, if desired.
4. Cut 6 mouth shapes from 1/2-inch-thick cheese slices with small knife or round cutter. Cut 12 small dots (for eyes) from 1/4-inch-thick cheese slices with plastic straw.
5. Adhere mouths and eyes to sides of bell pepper bowls with dabs of peanut butter. Cut nori into pupils, eyebrows, and teeth, and adhere to faces with peanut butter. Fill each pepper with spaghetti mixture, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if using.
October 2010 p.40