The original recipe was courtesy of Williams Sonoma's Fun Food recipe book and modified by McCracken Egg.
Servings: About 6
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 1 clove
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
4 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 1/2 teaspoons oregano, divided
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg
6 saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
16 ounces dry spaghetti
Shaved Parmesan cheese for serving, optional
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. (Let the child stir the garlic so they can smell how fragrant it becomes while cooking.)
Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 teaspoons of oregano. Bring the sauce to a simmer. (Be sure the child sees the small bubbles that form to make the sauce simmer.)
Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the skillet with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce is simmering; thoroughly combine the ground beef, egg, crushed saltines, 1 teaspoon of salt, the remaining oregano, and ground pepper in a small mixing bowl with your hands or a mixing spoon. (This is also another great step for the child to do. They can wear food gloves that may be a little big or not. Either way, they will enjoy getting their hands "dirty" to mix the meatballs.)
Using you hands, collect a rounded tablespoon of the meatball mixture and roll it between your palms to create a meatball. Set aside on a plate and repeat the process until all of the meat has been formed. (Show the child how to do one and then let them do the rest unless they need help.)
Turn the heat up on the sauce to medium to medium high.
Using tongs, carefully add the meatballs to the sauce to cook. Cook for three minutes, turn, and repeat the process 3 or 4 times until the meatballs are cooked through. (Let the child remove a meatball and cut it in half to see what it looks like when it is cooked through.)
Remove the skillet from the heat and cover to keep warm.
While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the spaghetti by adding it to 3/4 pot of boiling water with 2 teaspoons of salt and the remaining olive oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, or according to package directions.
Drain the pasta.
Serve pasta topped with sauce, meatballs, and cheese if desired.
Let the child do as much of this recipe as they can on their own. It is simple enough that they should only need minimal heat. Always help with the heated items including cooking and draining the pasta.