Kid-friendly "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta+Tasty Tricolor Radicchio Salad+Orange Italiano Ice Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Italian "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta + Tasty Tricolore Radicchio Salad + Orange Italiano Ice

Family Meal Plan: "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta+Tasty Tricolor Radicchio Salad+Orange Italiano Ice

Italian "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta + Tasty Tricolore Radicchio Salad + Orange Italiano Ice

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Kana Proj/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Italian "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta

Ciao, Chefs! It's no secret we love Italian food around here, and these recipes are oh-so classically Italian, with a twist, of course! Bolognese is about the richest, meatiest sauce we can think of, and it's very tasty (and traditional) eaten over fresh pasta like tagliatelle or pappardelle. If you've ever tried it, you know what we mean. Now, imagine a vegetarian version made with Lentils instead of the traditional beef, pork, or pancetta. Remember our German wurst (sausage) made out of pinto beans? Same idea! The downtime while your bolognese simmers can be filled by tasting and ripping up the ingredients for the Tricolore Radicchio Salad and whisking up the vinaigrette. Although radicchio and endive shouldn't be too hard to find for the salad, and the recipe really is better with them, we've given you a red and green alternative for each. There are so many fun ways to learn and connect to the beautiful country of Italy! Enjoy!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 5 green onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 zucchini
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 1 head endive (or 1 C packed spinach leaves)
  • 1/2 to 1 head radicchio, your choice how much to add to salad (or 1/4 head red cabbage)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 1/2 oranges
  • 1/2 C olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 C red lentils **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 16 oz dried or fresh fettuccine noodles **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 9 C or 2 qts water
  • 2 C ice

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • juice :

    to extract or squeeze out the juice of a fruit or vegetable, like a lemon, orange, or carrot, often cutting open or peeling the fruit or veggie first to access its flesh.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • squeeze :

    to firmly press or twist a food with fingers, hands, or a device to remove its liquid, like shredded potatoes, frozen and thawed spinach, or tofu.

  • toss :

    to lightly lift and drop food items together or coat food items with flour, or a sauce or dressing, as in a salad.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Kid or kitchen scissors
  • Peeler
  • Grater
  • Large skillet or soup pot
  • Measuring spoons
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Large pot
  • Colander
  • Can opener
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)


Italian "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta

  • 7 C water, divided
  • 16 oz dried or fresh fettuccine noodles **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free fettuccine or other pasta)**
  • 5 green onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 zucchini
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 2 T olive or vegetable oil + more for sautéing
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 C red lentils **(for LEGUME ALLERGY sub 1 lb white button mushrooms—more info below)**
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt

Tasty Tricolore Radicchio Salad

  • 1 head endive (or 1 C packed spinach leaves)
  • 1/2 to 1 head radicchio, your choice how much to add to salad (or 1/4 head red cabbage)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1/4 C olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Orange Italiano Ice

  • 4 oranges, juiced
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 2 C ice

Food Allergen Substitutions

Italian "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta

  • Legume: For 1 C red lentils, substitute 1 lb white button mushrooms and cook them with the other veggies.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free pasta for fettuccine noodles.


Italian "Lenticchia" (Lentil) Bolognese Pasta

snip + peel + grate + slice

Use a pair of clean scissors to snip 5 green onions into small bits. Next, peel and grate 2 large carrots carefully using a box grater and then slice 2 celery stalks.

smash + peel + mince

Using the heel of your hand, smash 2 garlic cloves against a cutting board (adults might need to help with this!). Then peel the garlic and mince up the cloves into small bits.

chop + sauté + season

Chop 1 zucchini into tiny bits! Then chop 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms into small bits, too. Next, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet or soup pot. Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery over medium heat until soft. Season with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and stir. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until soft.

add + boil + simmer + stir

Add 1 cup of red lentils and 3 cups of water to your skillet or stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are al dente and water is absorbed. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a separate pot and add 16 ounces of fettuccine noodles. Boil until the noodles are al dente, then drain and drizzle with olive oil to keep them from sticking. To the lentils, stir in 1 can of crushed tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt. Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, about another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and season with more salt or sugar if needed. Serve over cooked fettuccine noodles and top with parmesan cheese! "Mangia bene" (MAN-jah BEH-neh) or "Eat well" in Italian!

Tasty Tricolore Radicchio Salad

slice + chop

Slice 1 endive head into ribbons and chop 1/2 to 1 head of radicchio into roughly 1-inch pieces. Next, chop 1 cucumber into half-moons or half-inch chunks and add all the chopped veggies to a mixing bowl.

squeeze + whisk + toss

Squeeze the juice from 1/2 an orange into a bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pour over chopped veggies and toss to combine!

Orange Italiano Ice

squeeze + measure + blend + pour

Squeeze the juice from 4 oranges into a blender. Measure and add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 2 cups ice. Blend until the mixture is thick and smooth, adding more water if you need to thin it out. Pour into cups and shout "Salute" (sah-LOO-teh) or "Cheers" in Italian!

Surprise Ingredient: Lentils!

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Photo by Nazaruk Nazar/

Hi! I'm Lentil!

"I'm small, but I pack a powerful punch—a nutritional punch, that is! I'm also a tasty addition to soups, chili, pasta, and salads and make a yummy vegan burger! 

History & Etymology

  • Lentils are edible legumes that were first domesticated in the area of the Fertile Crescent, which extends across Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Northern Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and parts of Iran, Kuwait, and Turkey. 
  • Archeologists have found evidence of lentil cultivation in Greece from 11,000 BCE and Syria around 6,000 BCE.  
  • Today, most of the world's lentils grow in Canada and India. 
  • The word "lentil" comes from Middle English from the Old French "lentille," from the Latin "lenticula," a diminutive of "lens." The scientific name for lentils is "Lens culinaris."


  • Lentils are part of the Fabaceae family, called the legume or pea family. The edible seeds, or pulses, grow on a flowering plant that is 6 to 18 inches tall. Two lens-shaped seeds grow in each pod. 
  • Lentils come in different sizes and colors, like brown, yellow, red, green, or black. They can also be mottled or speckled. However, the most common lentils are brown, green, and red.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Choose brown lentils that hold their texture when cooked if you use them as a side dish or want them whole in a soup without getting mushy. 
  • Green or French lentils also remain firm when cooked and are good in salads. Black or Beluga lentils are similar to French lentils. 
  • Red lentils cook the fastest but lose their shape, so they are suitable for purées and soups, like Indian dals.
  • You can flavor lentils with a variety of spices and herbs. They can be boiled, soaked, fermented, fried, puréed, and made into fritters, soup, and tossed in salads. Lentils are cheap, nutrient-dense, versatile, and tasty! 


  • Lentils are a rich source of protein, fiber, food energy, B vitamins (especially folate), phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.
  • Like other legumes, such as beans, lentils are high in protein and can serve as a meat replacement.
  • The soluble fiber in lentils helps keep blood sugar under control.

What is Bolognese?

Photo by Monica Turlui
  • Bolognese (Bowl-uh-nayz) is known in Italy as "ragù alla bolognese." It is a slow-cooked Italian meat sauce (or ragù) used on pasta that includes minced or ground beef, pork, or veal, "soffritto" (diced onion, celery, and carrots), white wine, milk, and tomato paste or tomatoes.
  • The first recorded recipe of a ragù served over pasta was by the local cardinal's cook, Alberto Alvisi, from Imola, a city near Bologna, Italy, in the late 18th century. A recipe for "maccheroni (pasta) alla bolognese" appeared in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi, who had spent time in Bologna.
  • The sauce is traditionally served on tagliatelle pasta, but it is also used in "lasagne (lasagna) alla bolognese." 
  • A variety outside of Italy, called Spaghetti bolognese, is not considered authentic in Italy, and the sauce is more tomato-based than the traditional Italian version.

Let's Learn About Italy!

Photo by Marina Andrejchenko/
  • Italy became a unified country in 1861, only 150 years ago. It is sometimes called "bel paese" or "beautiful country."  
  • Italians invented the piano and the thermometer! 
  • In ancient Roman mythology, two twin brothers named Romulus and Remus founded Rome, Italy's capital city. The myth says the twins were abandoned and then discovered by a she-wolf before being found and raised by a shepherd and his wife. Eventually (and after many exciting adventures), they found themselves at the location of Palatine Hill, where Romulus built "Roma." The Italian wolf became Italy's unofficial national animal. 
  • In the 1930s and 40s, Mussolini, Italy's prime minister, and dictator tried to eliminate all foreign words from the Italian language. How did he do that? He just changed them! For example, in soccer, "goal" became "meta." Disney character names changed, too: Donald Duck became "Paperino;" Mickey Mouse became "Topolino;" and Goofy became "Pippo." Although they're not banned anymore, these words and names have stuck. So now if you go to the Italian Disneyland, called Gardaland Park, you will see Topolino and Pippo! 
  • About 60 million people call Italy home, and it is 116,350 square miles, slightly larger than the US state of Arizona. If you compare that to the United Kingdom, 67 million people live there, and it is about 94,350 square miles. So, the UK is smaller than Italy but has a bigger population! 
  • The Italian flag is green, white, and red. These colors represent hope, faith, and charity.
  • The average Italian eats close to 55 pounds of pasta annually. If you think about how light pasta is, that is a considerable amount! There are more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy today. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Italy?

  • Kids begin school at 6 years old. They grow up speaking Italian, but they learn English in school, so many become bilingual in Italian and English.
  • The most popular sport for kids is football (soccer). The Italian word for soccer is "calcio," the same word they use for "kick." A favorite of younger kids is "Rody, the bouncing horse," a plastic horse that a small child can hop onto and bounce around the room. Rody was invented in Italy in 1984.  
  • The family ("la famiglia") is a central characteristic of Italian life. Children have great respect for their older relatives. It is traditional to name the first male child after the grandfather and the first female child after the grandmother.
  • If kids live close to school, they can go home and have lunch with their families! Lunch at school might be pasta, meat with vegetables, a sandwich, or a salad with lots of ingredients. Families typically eat dinner later (7 to 8 pm), so kids end up staying up later, too!
  • Between lunch and dinner, kids often enjoy "merenda," which is an afternoon snack that translates to "something that is deserved." It is really a mini-meal that can include both savory and sweet foods. Examples of savory foods are a salami or mortadella sandwich, a slice of rustic bread rubbed with a cut, raw tomato, or "pizza bianca" (white pizza without tomato sauce). Types of sweet foods eaten during merenda are "gelato" (a lower-fat type of ice cream), any kind of cake, or biscotti dipped in warm milk.

That's Berry Funny

"Knock, knock!"

"Who's there?"


"Orange who?" 

"Orange you going to answer the door?"

Lettuce Joke Around

Why do oranges wear suntan lotion? 

Because they peel.

That's Berry Funny

What lettuce do you eat at a swimming pool?


That's Berry Funny

Why did the orange stop at the top of the hill?

Because it ran out of juice!

That's Berry Funny

Can you make a radicchio salad without any radicchio?

No, that would be radicchio-less.

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