5 Italian Dishes Kids Can Make

Kids love to help out in the kitchen and easy Italian dishes will encourage them to do so even more. See more kid-friendly recipe pictures. monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock

There are scents so timeless -- and so tied to the kitchens of childhood -- that they turn the mind home in an instant: bread baking, steak sizzling, stew simmering, pasta boiling, chocolate melting.

Family mealtime is about so much more than consuming food. It's about leaning in to the life collective. Prepping ingredients peppered with news of the day. Sharing food and learning more about each other. In a family, being food-centric isn't always about the food.

For that reason, kids shouldn't be left out of the process. Preschoolers can help gather ingredients, while kindergarteners can help measure and pour. First and second-graders can dice, zest, mince and slice with parental supervision (and a primer on safe technique). And as children move into third through sixth grade, they can use basic kitchen tools, such as a can opener or electric mixer, or even the stove, with parental supervision [source: Negrin].

When children are actively involved in whipping up the main course, they're more inclined to eat the end result. So if your children love pizza (who doesn't?), try building on this taste profile with other Italian dishes. We've tested five geared toward pint-sized chefs that are just as much fun to eat as they are to make.