"Today I made pasta with spinach and tomatoes. I grated the lemon rind, juiced the lemon, and sliced the tomatoes and basil earlier, so I just had to cook the pasta at the last minute and throw in the final ingredients. A great, fast way to halve the tomatoes is to put them on a plate, put another plate on top, and then press on the top plate and run your knife through the middle (younger kids may need help with this step). Refrigerated fresh pasta doesn't take as long to cook as dry pasta, which makes this recipe even quicker. The blend of cream cheese and mascarpone makes the sauce really creamy, though it tastes light. The lemon and basil are so fresh tasting—they will remind you of long summer days. This recipe was extremely popular with my family. I hope it is with yours, too!" -- Matisee Reid, a kid who cooks for friends and family, age: 13

THE VERDICTKeeley (age 15): She thought the pasta was restaurant quality. She loved the creaminess and freshness of the disk. 10 stars!

Mica (age 12): She just said, "Can I have more?" 10 stars!

Matisse (age 13): I loved the spinach. The combination of the cheeses and lemon worked really well. 9 stars!


1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh linguine3 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese1½ tablespoons mascarpone cheese½ teaspoon grated lemon rind2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice½ teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg4 cups baby spinach leaves1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved¼ cup sliced fresh basil2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

2. Add cream cheese and mascarpone cheese to bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in lemon rind and the next 4 ingredients (through nutmeg).

3. Heat saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pasta and cream cheese mixture to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in spinach and tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat; stir in basil. Sprinkle evenly with cheese; serve immediately.

SERVES 4 (serving size: about 2 cups pasta and 1½ teaspoons cheese)CALORIES 292; FAT 10.2g (sat 5.6g, mono 2.7g, poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 12g; CARB 41g; FIBER 4g; CHOL 61mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 454mg; CALC 107mg

--Recipe by Susan Russo