Welcome to Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly set of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen.
This week, cheesy Turkey Burgers and Summer Tomato and Peach Salad make a perfect pairing for a summer lunch or dinner al fresco (or at the kitchen table).
These aren’t your ordinary turkey burgers, they have a delicious secret . . . cheese mixed right into the patties! Kids will hone their measuring skills as they portion the burger patties. These burgers are great for lunch or dinner and can be topped with any and all of your favorite burger toppings.
What You’ll Need:
1 pound 93 percent lean ground turkey
1 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 hamburger buns
Step one: In large bowl, use your hands to gently mix together turkey, panko, cheese, mayonnaise, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
Step 2: Use your hands to divide turkey mixture into 4 lightly packed balls. Gently flatten each ball into circle that measures 4 inches across. Place patties on large plate. Wash your hands.
Step 3: In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 1 minute (oil should be hot but not smoking). Tilt and swirl skillet to coat evenly with oil.
Step 4: Use spatula to carefully place patties in skillet. Cook, without moving patties, until well browned on first side, about 5 minutes. Use clean spatula to gently flip patties (ask an adult for help). Cook until burgers register 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.
Step 5: Turn off heat. Use clean spatula to transfer burgers to hamburger buns. Add your favorite burger toppings and serve.
Math (Division and Weight):
In step 2, kids divide the ground turkey mixture into four lightly packed balls. Ask kids what they think is the best method for dividing the mixture into four equal portions. If needed, use the questions below to guide their thinking:
If we divide the ground turkey mixture in half, how many portions will we have? (Answer: 2)
If we divide those halves each in half again, how many portions will we have? (Answer: 4)
If you have a kitchen scale, kids can try out this extra-accurate procedure for dividing the ground turkey mixture:
Place a bowl on the scale and hit the tare button so it shows a “0.”
Add the ground turkey mixture to the scale and measure its weight in grams.
Divide the total weight by four, since kids are dividing the mixture into four portions. That is the weight for one portion.
Place a second clean bowl or plate on the scale and hit the tare button so it shows a “0.”
Add ground turkey mixture to the clean bowl or plate until the scale reads the weight you calculated for one portion.
Which method of portioning do they think results in the most even portions, weighing or dividing by hand? Ask kids if they can think of other recipes where they could divide using the help of a kitchen scale. (Examples: Pretzel Rolls, Meatballs, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies)
and Peach Salad
Tomatoes and peaches are at their ripest (and juiciest!) in summer, making this salad a perfect picnic side dish. Kids will test their knowledge of the difference between fruits and vegetables as they explore the ingredients in this summery salad.
What You’ll Need:
3 ripe tomatoes
½ teaspoon plus ¼ teaspoon salt, measured separately
2 small ripe peaches
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice, squeezed from 1 lemon
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Step 1: Use small serrated knife to cut each tomato in half from top to bottom (through stem). Place each half flat side down. Use tip of knife to cut out core from each half. Cut tomatoes into wedges that are roughly ½ inch thick. Cut each wedge in half (cut the short way).
Step 2: In colander, combine tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt and gently toss to combine. Place colander in sink and let tomatoes drain for 15 minutes.
Step 3: While tomatoes drain, cut each peach away from pit, then discard pit. Slice peaches into ½-inch-thick wedges following same method shown for tomatoes. Cut each wedge in half.
Step 4: In medium bowl, whisk together oil, shallot, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add drained tomatoes and peaches to bowl with dressing and use rubber spatula to gently stir to combine.
Step 5: With your fingers, tear mint leaves into pieces. Sprinkle mint over salad. Serve.
Before kids begin cooking, have them lay out all of the ingredients for this recipe on the counter. Tell kids that before you start, you’re going to play a quick game of “This, That, or the Other!”
Ask kids: Can you guess which of the ingredients in this recipe are fruits, which are vegetables, and which are neither or “other”?
Have kids sort the ingredients into groups with their best guesses. Ask kids: What were your reasons for putting these ingredients into these groups?
Tell kids that in plant science, or botany, the definition of a fruit is the part of a plant that develops from a flower and contains seeds inside. A fruit has a skin on the outside (which may be thick or thin), its insides are usually juicy, and it contains one or more seeds. A vegetable, on the other hand, is any of the other parts of a plant that people eat. Some grow above the ground (leaves, buds, flowers, and stems), and some grow below the ground (roots).
Ask kids: Now that you know these definitions, would you make any changes to your groupings? Why or why not? Have kids make any changes they’d like to, and give their “final answer.”
Tell kids that plant scientists would sort the ingredients of this recipe into these groups:
Fruits: tomatoes, peaches, lemon, pepper (pepper comes from black peppercorns, which are another fruit—a berry!)
Vegetables: shallot, mint
Other: salt (a mineral); extra-virgin olive oil (which is made from olives, which are a fruit)
Ask kids: Were you surprised by any of these answers? Why or why not? The tomato may be especially surprising. In cooking, we often think of it as a vegetable, but in plant science, it’s considered a fruit.
Now you’re ready to start cooking the recipe from step 1.
Take It Further
Now that kids know the difference between fruits and vegetables, have them test their knowledge with our Fruit or Vegetable Quiz! And the next time they cook, they can practice playing or challenge a friend or family member to a round of “This, That, or the Other” with another set of ingredients.
Make It Your Way Challenge: Eat the Rainbow
A bowl (or plate) of colorful veggies is fun to look at, and is also filled with nutrients and vitamins. In this Make It Your Way Challenge, kids try to load their breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack plate with veggies of all different colors. Will they make a plate of rainbow veggies with a special sauce for dipping? How about a grain bowl with bountiful toppings? A veggie-packed sandwich that would make Roy G. Biv proud?
What You’ll Need:
Use whatever vegetables you have at home, or have your young chef brainstorm ideas and make a special shopping list
Language Arts (Vocabulary):
Before your young chef tackles this challenge and creates their vegetable-laden meal or snack, remind them that the colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo. Then, work together to brainstorm as many fruits and vegetables that fall under each color as possible. (Because it can be hard to find foods that are naturally blue, indigo, and violet, kids can combine those three colors into one purple/blue category for this exercise.) See if they can name at least 5 for each color. Then, have them consult their list and plan out their meal or snack. We included a few examples of veggies for each color in the activity. Here are a few more:
Red: Red pepper, watermelon, pomegranate, red grapefruit, red potato, cherry
Orange: Pumpkin, persimmon, carrots, mango, orange, cantaloupe
Yellow: Pineapple, banana, yellow pepper, lemon, golden turnip, spaghetti squash
Green: Baby spinach, green beans, asparagus, green apple, honeydew melon, kiwi
Purple/Blue: Blackberries, blueberries, red/purple cabbage, eggplant, plum
Take It Further
A rainbow is a multicolored arc (or curved line) that you can sometimes see in the sky. When light travels to Earth from the sun, it’s made up of repeating wave shapes (imagine two people holding the ends of a jump rope and wiggling it up and down). Some of the waves are longer, and some are shorter, which scientists call their wavelengths. When all of these wavelengths are traveling together, the light appears to be white in color. But if they get split apart, the different wavelengths appear as different colors. Light wavelengths can be split apart with a prism, which bends the light waves in different directions. This process is called refraction. At the end of a rain storm, the raindrops act as prisms. As the sun comes out, the light travels through the raindrops, the different wavelengths bend in different directions, and different colors appear in the sky! (This video explains more about rainbows.)
Ask kids: Have they seen a rainbow in the sky before? When? Have they seen rainbows anywhere else?