Pretty pasta! | Daily News

Pretty pasta!

Linda Miller Nicholson tried the usual tricks when her 5-year-old son stopped eating most vegetables.

The Eastside resident pureed spinach into smoothies. (“Nope.”) She tucked greens under the cheese in pizza. (“No way, with a side of dramatic gagging.”)

Then came the flash of brilliance — or more properly, the rainbow. Nicholson, who has been making homemade pasta since she was a child, began brightly colouring her pasta dough with vegetables, herbs and superfoods. She tactfully renamed it “edible Play-Doh.”

She shares her secrets in her new book Pasta, Pretty Please, giving recipes and directions for an array of colored doughs that include beets, blueberries and other natural ingredients. Beyond dinner, she has taken noodles in a dazzlingly artistic direction. From her home in Preston, east of Issaquah, she makes amazing pasta creations ranging from ravioli emoji symbols to portraits of public figures. Beyond picky eaters and art fans, her following includes many families with kids on the autism spectrum, who tell her their kids appreciate working with the pasta textures and choosing their own colors and shapes.

Nicholson doesn’t expect everyone to make — or want to make — her most attention-getting patterns and shapes, even though she can show you how. But she does believe making and enjoying homemade pasta is simpler than it might look, even for kids.

“Growing up, making pasta was with a rolling pin and whatever I could do with a well of flour and some eggs,” she says.

Nicholson learned homemade pasta from her grandparents. As a child, she writes, her parents moved to a small town in southern Idaho, not the most obvious place for a mixed-race couple and their kids. Her “best friend” was a calf — until her father turned him into hamburger. Nicholson was a vegetarian for 20 years thereafter; it helped that she could make her own noodles. Since the wild success of her pasta art — she’s been featured on the “Today” show and has a super-popular Instagram feed @saltyseattle — she thinks a lot about what it means to create a direction for her life that also involves food.

She gets questions from young people who note that “pasta artist” was not an option they ever saw on career day. She suggests that people keep doing what they love, and see where it takes them.

In her own family, Bentley, now 10, helps care for the flock of chickens providing eggs for their pasta. They make noodles together. And yes, she writes, at this point “he eats vegetables like a boss.”

Play Junkie

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