Chinese BBQ pork with noodles, carrots and broccoli

WELL, I REALLY MESSED THIS ONE UP. Let’s just say feeding the toddler two pieces of peanut butter toast 90 minutes before dinner wasn’t a recipe for success. Even when said dinner involved pasta and barbecue sauce, two things she holds dear. It’s a shame though because this was so good! We’ll try again another time and do our best not to sabotage the whole thing. On that note, I’ve got a new idea. My goal is to limit the after-nap snack to fruit. It’s light, healthy and only filling for the moment. I’m pretty sure this won’t fly but we’ll see. Maybe I can get away with yogurt… I don’t know. Anyway, back to the noodles.

Tonight’s dinner really started yesterday. We had a pork roast (with a lovely mustard sauce on top, thank you Barefoot Contessa) and as usual, ate not quite half of it. We’re a 2 1/2 person household when it comes to dinner portions so we always have leftovers and I do my best to transform them into something else later in the week. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, like this time, we’re a house divided. But we also had tons of carrots leftover from our Thanksgiving Dinner That Was Not To Be. Our group of expat friends here in Rome had planned to get together, and our contribution was to be apple crisp and roasted carrots for fourteen, but a number of maladies stood between us and that turkey. These included our own colds, ear infections and “slight bronchitis” plus another family’s bought with lice. We were actually still desperategame for holiday cheer after all that, but when a chicken pox scare came up, we officially opted out of the dinner. Phoebe’s been vaccinated but Estelle is still too little and chicken pox for babies is just not the way I wanted to ring in my happiest Thanksgiving so far. So, I roasted a chicken and we decorated for Christmas instead. Now, back to the noodles.

For this take on Chinese BBQ ribs, one of my favorite foods, one that isn’t REALLY available in Rome, I kept things very simple. Boil the pasta. Meanwhile in a skillet, heat up the sliced, diced or shredded meat with 2 teaspoons BBQ sauce. Don’t add more than that because it’ll overwhelm the whole dish. (Trust me, I’ve done that too.) Once it’s warmed through, remove and set to the side, allowing the BBQ sauce a few minutes to soak into the meat. Fill same pan with all the veggies, in this case we used carrots and broccoli. (The carrots by the way, actually did triple duty. I also sliced them up to be pureed — to become baby food, an additional health kick for ragu later in the week and also to make carrot muffins.) Add enough water to halfway cover the veggies and just steam with a lid loosely on top. Alternatively, you could add the veggies to the pasta when it’s got about 5 minutes left to cook. Drain pasta (and veggies if added), reserving 1 cup water (always a good idea). Combine the meat, veggies, all scrapes of BBQ sauce plus 1/2 cup soy sauce (preferably light sodium). Toss, add salt and pepper as needed.

If your little people have delicate taste buds, try this. Reserve a few plain noodles. Mix those with a few from the soy sauce-BBQ mixture and just add at least one of everything: one carrot, one piece broccoli and slice of meat. All this will make the dish milder, and hopefully more likely to be eaten. That is, as long as you didn’t ply them with toast right before dinner. But I’m sure you wouldn’t do that.

 Chinese BBQ Pork Noodles with Carrots and Broccoli

Use any combination of meat (chicken, turkey, pork or beef) with veggies your family likes (carrots, broccoli, peas, peppers and so on)

I used KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce but you could make your own, or use any version available

Use 1/2 box of noodles for the healthiest ratio of pasta to veggies to meat, even if you’ve got big eaters. There will be plenty

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pasta, spaghetti noodles (1/2 pound for 4 medium size servings, 1 pound for large portions or leftovers )
  • 1 pound already cooked pork, chicken, turkey or beef, sliced
  • 1 pound carrots (8-10), sliced into strips
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons BBQ sauce

Instructions

Boil the pasta in salted water, according to directions less 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile in a skillet, heat up the sliced, diced or shredded meat with 2 teaspoons BBQ sauce. Add 1/4 cup of water if it’s sticking. Once ‘s warmed through, remove and set to the side, allowing the BBQ sauce a few minutes to soak into the meat.

Fill same pan with the carrots and broccoli. Add enough water to halfway cover the veggies and steam over medium heat, with a lid loosely on top, until tender. About 8-10 minutes. Alternatively,  add veggies to the pasta water about 5 minutes before it’s done. Drain pasta (and veggies if added), reserving 1 cup pasta water. Combine the meat, veggies, all scrapes of BBQ sauce plus 1/2 cup soy sauce (preferrably light sodium). Toss, add water to loosen as needed and salt and pepper to taste.

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