By Bang Tran
My favorite thing to do in my service with FoodCorps is cooking with students. When students grow their own vegetables and cook it themselves, they’ll eat anything!
Throughout my year and a half of service so far, I’ve come up with a lot of recipes to do in the classroom with students. I try to keep it as accessible and simple as possible so that students can easily replicate it in their homes if they’d like. A few times, I’ve had students come back to say that they made the recipe at home for their family, and it always melts my little heart to hear that.
The recipes are extremely simple so that students can do almost all of the cooking themselves and fit the whole process in the span of one class. The recipes can also be classed up with a few modifications if teachers and adults want to make them at home!
Here are some of the recipes:
My go-to recipe for tastings in the classroom. Radishes are very fast and simple to grow, so it’s one of the easiest garden-to-table meals to get young students started on! The cream cheese is a familiar flavor for the students and helps take a little bit of the bite out of the raw radishes.
- 1 bunch of radishes, tops removed
- Cream cheese
Slice the radishes or chop them up into small pieces. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on the toast, and top with the radishes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Okonomiyake (Japanese Cabbage “Pancake”)
High school students from Jackson High School did this recipe as part of a demo for younger elementary students. It’s a very flexible recipe that can have anything added on top of it. We used fresh greens from the school garden to mix in with the cabbage. Okonomi means “what you want” and –yaki means “grilled/cooked”, so basically anything goes for the recipe.
- Half head of cabbage, chopped
- 3 eggs
- Anything you want to add!
- Soy sauce/tamari
Chop half a head of cabbage up into small pieces and ribbons. Add a little bit of oil into the pan and sauté the cabbage (and whatever other veggies you want to add) until translucent (about 4-5 minutes). Meanwhile, get the eggs ready by whisking them and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Once the cabbage is translucent, remove from the pan and let it cool slightly (2-3 minutes). When the cabbage is cooled, mix the eggs in with the cabbage to make the “batter”. Pour the batter into the pan in a circular shape like a pancake and then cook until the eggs are done—it won’t take very long. It helps to keep the pan covered too, and once finished, add top with a little bit of soy sauce or tamari.
Green Eggs (For Dr. Seuss month)
I did this recipe with students ranging from 1st-5th grade. They cracked the eggs and blended the spinach themselves, and the older kids worked the pan, too! The eggs get really, really, really green with no food coloring.
**I used 12 eggs for a class of 25, with each student getting a small tasting. The ratio of eggs to spinach doesn’t matter very much—I let the students decide how much spinach to put in. A few classes decided to put in ¾ of a bag and it still came out delicious.
Crack the eggs in a blender and add as much spinach as you’d like. Blend the two together until you get a green egg mixture and there are no more large, visible chunks of spinach. Scramble the eggs like you would normally!
Broccoli “Stir fry”
This recipe was done by my 7th graders who took care of the broccoli and harvested themselves. They fought over who ate too much broccoli, even the students who said they hated broccoli in the beginning!
- 1-2 heads of broccoli
- Soy sauce
Cut the florets into small, bite size pieces. Add a little bit of oil to the pan and sauté until the florets are bright green and have slightly browned edges. Add in a soy sauce or tamari sauce and stir it all together.
Miranda, another FoodCorps member serving in Atlanta, helped come up with this recipe. It’s a super simple, creamy cauliflower soup that tastes a bit like mashed potatoes. A first grade class did this recipe (with a little bit of guidance) all by themselves!
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 2-4 cups water
***For onions, I usually do them in a hand-powered food processor with students. It makes it a lot faster and they don’t fuss about crying when cutting the onions.
Cut the cauliflower into small, bite sized pieces so that they cook quickly and evenly. Chop the onion and the garlic into small pieces. Heat up the pan to medium heat, add a little bit of oil, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and fragrant. Then add the cauliflower and sauté until the cauliflower is just slightly tender (6-7 minutes). Transfer it all to a high-powered blender, add in 2 cups of water and blend until it’s all incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more water if you want a different texture.
For more from Bang, check his “Finding Home In the Food We Eat: A Vietnamese Journey” piece on Slow Food USA’s blog!