Some kids can be pretty picky on what they eat. Most of the kids I know at least enjoy chicken nuggets, but most parents are not in love with eating chicken nuggets for a family dinner together. I want kids to have fun eating what the rest of the family is eating because I believe it is important that everyone eats the same meal no only to save time and money, but also because it teaches kids to eat what they are served while maturing their palate and helping them to eat proper and healthy meals.
Chicken Nugget Parmesan was the first dish I created for my Chicken Nugget Gourmet Recipes series in an attempt to serve my family something that everyone would eat. It is healthy while it is fun for kids and enjoyable even to parents and it is very easy to prepare! This is a great go-to meal for summer when all the kids are home and you are needing to serve more family-friendly and kid-friendly meals.
You Will Need
- Noodles, cooked (any kind works, but I served the multi-color farfalle/bowtie pasta as it is fun to eat, pretty to look at, and contains hidden vegetables)
- Chicken nuggets, cooked (I used store-bought for ease, but if you can make your own with cut-up, breaded chicken breast, I would recommend doing that as it is healthier)
- Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Pasta sauce (see my recipe below)
1. Cook your noodles, chicken nuggets, and tomato sauce (according to the packaging directions if you use store bought ingredients); try to time this so that all items are finished around the same time so you can enjoy a warm meal.
2. Instructions for making my Hidden Veggie Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce (a slight modification of my Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce Recipe): In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cans of diced tomatoes (drain some of the liquid for a thicker sauce–not drained, the sauce may be too soupy but you can always strain later,) 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped onions, 1/2 Tablespoon chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup finely diced carrots, 1/4 cup finely diced peppers (green, red, yellow, or orange depending on the taste you wish to achieve–you can also add in spinach, zucchini, or any other vegetables you would like to “hide” in the sauce.) I did not add sugar, but you may add a very small amount to reduce acidity if you choose.
Simmer on medium heat about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, stirring frequently. Using a handheld blender, puree the sauce to remove the large chunks.
If you do not have an immersion blender, let the sauce cook for a couple minutes then puree using a blender or food processor. If the sauce is too watery still, strain out some of the liquid. Remember, the sauce will gel up a little bit as it cools so don’t remove too much liquid.
3. When the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Put the chicken with cheese back into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.
4. Plate your meal! While it is perfectly fine that you plate the chicken separately from the noodles and sauce, I believe it is best to serve the complete dish to the entire family. First, add the noodles, then the chicken, then top with the tomato sauce.
This Chicken Nugget Parmesan provides, protein in the chicken, grains in the breading and pasta, starch and possibly vegetables in the noodles, dairy in the cheese, and more vegetables in the sauce. Chicken Nugget Parmesan is one of my kid-friendly, family-friendly recipes in my Chicken Nugget Gourmet Recipes series. Watch for more chicken nugget recipes to come! Be sure to bookmark this recipe or print it! Come back and let me know how you liked it too!
- 2 cans diced tomatoes slightly drained
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup onions chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots finely chopped
- 1/4 cup peppers green/yellow/red/orange, finely chopped
- 1/2 Tablespoon garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dash of sugar optional
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer on medium heat about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently.
Using a handheld blender, puree the sauce to remove the chunks. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can let the sauce cool for a few minutes then puree in a blender or food processor. If the sauce is too watery, you can strain out some of the extra liquid, but be sure not to drain too much as the sauce will thicken a little more as it cools.
Storing sauce in an airtight container upside down in the refrigerator may help the sauce to last longer! Serve this sauce over noodles and chicken nuggets with some mozzarella cheese for my Chicken Nugget Parmesan recipe!
Bonus tip: Store your extra pasta sauce in a sealed container upside down in the refrigerator. According to the 34 Ways To Make Your Stuff Last As Long As Possible post on Buzzfeed, it will prevent mold from sprouting up! I tried this recently and the sauce lasted a little longer than usual! Bear in mind, however, this is homemade sauce without preservatives, so it will still only last a short time.
For a grown-up dish, try my Eggplant Parmesan!