A friend of mine really got into the Halloween spirit this year. We went to a party over the weekend, where she served the witch finger tea cookies I posted about on Monday. She and her sister also made a main course to go with that: Stuffed rats with green pasta.
What a cool idea! The rats were basically miniature meatloaves stuffed with pasta and cheese and baked in a rich tomato sauce. She scooped up the rats and served them with pasta that had been dyed green.
I think kids would get a kick out of this dish. It looks and sounds wierd (and spooky!), but it tastes familiar. What kid doesn't like spaghetti and meatballs?
Try it for your kids this Halloween:
Stuffed Rats with Green Pasta
Start with your favorite meatball or meatloaf recipe. These work best
with a mixture that's very smooth and mold-able, free of big
chunks of onion or garlic. (You can still use those ingredients, just
chop them finely.)
If you don't have a meatball recipe, try this:
1 small onion, grated or minced
1 large egg, beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 TBS ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2/3 cup dry grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 Italian-style bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
Use 1.5 pounds of whatever ground meat you like. You can go classic
Italian by mixing equal parts beef, veal, and pork. All-beef meatballs
are even simpler, or you can go healthy and use ground turkey or
chicken. To be honest, I'd go lean here, as you'll be baking the
critters in sauce, which you don't want to get too oily.
To assemble, combine all the ingredients except for the meat in a bowl,
and mix thoroughly. Now work the meat in and combine. Refrigerate
while you prep the other ingredients.
Next you'll need:
1. Your favorite long noodle pasta. Spaghetti works really well, but you could use linguine or fettuccine if you like.
2. Cheese for stuffing the "rats." My friend used cheddar, but I think I'd prefer mozzarella or even goat cheese.
3. A jar of store-bought tomato sauce to bake the "rats" in. Of course
you could make your own sauce too! But this is much easier.
4. Green food coloring.
5. Stuff to decorate the "rats" and make them look more realistic, like almonds, peas, and shredded carrots.
Here's how to complete:
1. Boil water for your pasta with green food coloring, then cook your
pasta al dente. Shred your cheese or slice it into pieces small enough
2. Grab about a cup of your meatball mixture and work it into a
half-inch-thick flat disc. Next, roll up some of your green pasta in
the center of the disc and sprinkle it with cheese. Roll the edges of
the disc up and close the pasta in, until you have something that looks
like a small meatloaf.
3. Place your mini meatloaves into a baking dish and pour your tomato
sauce over them. Poke two little almonds into the top of each "rat" to
look like ears. Then, preheat your oven for 350 degrees. Bake the
critters for 40 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.
To finish, remove the "rats" from the oven and decorate! Here are some ideas:
- Use pre-julienned carrots (the kind that you put in salads) to make
edible whiskers. You could also use bits of uncooked pasta, but I like
that carrots add something healthy and tasty.
- Poke two cooked green peas into the front of each "rat" for eyes!
- If you want a fancier dish, make your own tomato sauce or add fresh herbs inside, like basil or parsley.
- Serve one "rat" per person over some green pasta, with extra sauce spooned on.