This tomato recipe has personality! Makes two “mato” faces.

Ages: 1-2 years


  • 1 medium tomato, cut in half
  • 6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 2 slices black olive, cut in half
  • 4 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 basil leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Ready to scoop? Use a spoon to dig out the goopy center of each tomato half.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons cheese and garlic powder. How does it smell? Give it a whiff!
  4. Fill the tomato halves with the garlicky crumb mixture. Top the tomato halves with the rest of the cheese. Place 2 halved olive slices on each tomato half for eyes. Place tomato halves on a baking sheet.
  5. Mama Mato now needs a great hairstyle! Place the cooked spaghetti on the baking sheet in whatever style you’d like—curlicues, long and straight, or short and sassy. (You’ll put the hair on her head after it comes out of the oven.)
  6. Kiss the tips of your fingers and say, “Ciao, Mama Mato!” before putting the pan in the oven.
  7. Bake Mama Mato for 8 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, see if you can style your hair like Mama Mato’s.
  8. Transfer baked tomato halves to a plate to cool for a few minutes.
  9. Tear off the tip of each basil leaf and place one leaf-tip under each set of eyes for a smile.
  10. Now add the baked spaghetti hair to create a super style!

From Bean Appétit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun With Food by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen.

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