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Italian food for a bunch of 8 year olds...

So my son picked Italy for his school's multicultural project. He is also supposed to bring in a sample of traditional food from his country. I am looking for ideas of a food (main dish, dessert, it doesn't matter) that will appeal to a wide variety of second graders. I thought of making Zeppole, but have never done it.. Any ideas? Thanks

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  1. Biscotti or foccacia. With both they would see the difference between Italian versions of a dish and American....cookies/bread (American pizza)

    1. You could do spaghetti and meatballs. I have an 8 year old and he loves meatballs (and I buy the big bag of frozen Kirkland meatballs from Costco).

      1. Can you say a bit about the serving conditions? Will students be eating all kinds of things at the same time, or is each student's item to be everyone's sole concentration for a while? I'm assuming that you'll need something stable at room temp. for some while? (Only a baked pasta, for example, would withstand sitting around for an hour or two.)

        In any case, beyond the suggestions already on view above, you might consider tiramisu.

        1. My daughter had to do the same thing (school project). We made anisette cookies (fairly easy to do, travels well, tastes good, fun project).

          1. How about a ravioli and meatball on a skewer (sharp points removed of course) with a bit of mozzarella cheese on the end. If they have a freezer, you could just get some gelato and some small cups and spoons.

            1. Hmm. First of all, any allergy alerts? They seem to be ubiquitous in schools, nowadays. Rainbow cookies (also called Neapolitan cookies) are colorful and tasty, moist and almondy-y. Lots of great recipes are on the web, and they're a staple in Italian bakeries. An easy idea is Nutella...an Italian invention... spread on a good whole grain white bread or plain cookie.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pinehurst

                i love rainbow cookies, but a lot of kids tend not to be crazy about the strong almond/marzipan flavor....i've seen many a child get sucked in by the pretty colors and chocolate coating, only to make a face and spit it out after tasting it.

                Nutella, on the other hand, is usually a big hit :)

                1. Pizzelle would be easy to transport if you have a pizzelle maker.

                  My first thought when I saw your headline was stuffed shells. That was my special meal of choice when I was that age! Might be a bit of a PITA to serve in a classroom, tho'.

                  1. There are a couple kids each day that present. There is nowhere to store hot things, so I would rather serve something he can bring with him in the morning. No food allergies that I know of. These are some great ideas!
                    My son is a good eater, but I know a lot of kids aren't,so I was trying to make something that the kids would enjoy, maybe introduce something new. Thanks again!

                    1. We had a similar project, and one student's Nana spent all night making mini meatballs and sauce, they were TO DIE FOR, but a LOT of work, I'm sure.

                      We also had Italian breadsticks and Italian pine nut cookies. Unfortunately, except for the bread sticks, the rest was all homemade! What we do for our kids' school projects!!

                      1. How about some real parmesan or fresh mozzarella? I know I didn't have the real stuff - i.e., not out of a can - until I was in college. You could probably make a wedge of decent parm go a long way if you cut it into shards. It might be an interesting experience for them even if they don't actually like the way it tastes. (Of course, if you suspect that most of the kids in the class are grating parm over their pasta with their own microplanes every night, they'd obviously be pretty underwhelmed.)

                        I remember being in second grade in SW Arizona, and having bagels and cream cheese for the first time (amazing, but true) as part of a similar project. I have a hard time believing that they were anything other than lousy grocery store bagels, but I thought they were wonderful. Made a huge impression on me.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                          I really like that idea with the mozzerella and parm. I had never tasted that stuff till I was 21 or so. I will ask my son what he thinks.

                          1. re: master815k

                            this would be great, maybe with some fresh figs and melon. you won't need to worry about keeping it cold or hot. arancini also are great at room temp.

                            i always loved pignoli cookies too. and my italian grandmother always a bowl of whole nuts, in the shell, with a cracker, on the table for after dinner which bewitched me for all the work and then the shards of a mess i was actually allowed to make.

                        2. Good lasagna for a change, instead of bad lasagna.

                          1. How about fried polenta squares, with or without cheese? Or - I can't remember the name but saw them on Lidia's Italy - the chickpea-based flat cakes that are used as an alternative to bread.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: greygarious

                              I remembered. It's Panelle - a Sicilian specialty.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                I love panelle and they're not too difficult to make but depending on where you live the chickpea flour can be difficult to get ahold of. Do we know anything about the - for lack of better words - multiculturalness and/or foodie-ness of the kids in question? If they're been exposed to a wide array of ethnic foods their palates may be ready for something beyond spaghetti and meatballs.

                                The biscotti, melon & prosciutto, cheese plates, and cannoli ideas sound great. You can move beyond Parmesan and mozzarella to cheese like Taleggio, etc. It could be a little cost-prohibitive, though. Just make sure you have vegetarian alternatives for the prosciutto.

                            2. Love these projects! Personally, I'd send in biscotti because then I could save some for me! :) But if you're still looking for ideas, you could do an antipasti platter with tastes of a few cheeses and meats, maybe roasted red pepper, melon, focaccia.

                              1. Kind of an aside, but in our schools anything brought from home has to be in packages, No homemade anything. I'm surprised to hear of this and it is a little refreshing that it still exists somewhere.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: wekick

                                  We live in San Diego, but in our old Maryland school district, it was store bought only . I love it so much better this way.

                                2. A very traditional Italian appetizer, which would be easy to transport and assemble on site, would be wedges of honeydew melon or cantelope wrapped in proscutto. The sweetness of the melon with the savory meat is divine. And I suspect the kids have never had it before.

                                  1. Mini Frittatas done in a mini cupcake pan. Eggs, cheese, diced potato and onion or just egg and grated Romano. Easy, quick and you can serve them at room temp. Just spray the pan with non-stick spray, find an easy recipe bada bing, bada boom, you're all set.

                                    1. Would you be up for making cannoli? It would be like frosting in a cookie for 8 year olds. Dip the ends in little chocolate chips.

                                      1. Three words. Meat Ball Sub. They are easy to make, affordable to buy in bulk and will save you alot of clean up work.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: KungPao

                                          Really? Even though Meatball Parm may very well be my favorite hero, I believe the assignment was "Traditional Italian," not Italian-American pizzeria.

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            a lot of these suggestions are italian-american rather than traditional italian and i'm guessing most kids have had spaghetti and meatballs or lasagne.

                                        2. I just remembered this recipe for super-fast, super-easy focaccia

                                          It doesn't have quite the same depth of flavor or texture that a traditional focaccia has, but it is still very good and the topping options are endless. It's easy enough for kids to make with only minor supervision.