In “A Real Dragon” from the The Willowbee Tree series, Ty is celebrating his three-and-a-half year birthday, and he has a single wish: to see a real dragon. His parents and brother and sister are dumbfounded — how can they grant him this wish?
But the Willow Tree knows — it takes the children to Komodo Island in Indonesia where they meet, not only a real dragon, but three of the real dragon's children. The dragons and the Willowbees learn a great deal about each other, and realize that the stories don't always match up with the truth.
The Willowbees meet a dragon in Indonesia, but, for this week's snack, our dragons come from China.
A tangram is a type of puzzle that originated in ancient China. It is comprised of 7 pieces (2 large right triangles, 1 medium right triangle, 2 small right triangles, 1 square, and 1 parallelogram) that all fit into a larger square. Taken apart, the shapes can be used to make over 7,000 different pictures.
But don't worry, today we're only making two!
Topped with the tail end of this year's fresh pesto, these two dragons are an easy — and delicious — introduction to tangrams. Couple them with a few slices of bell pepper (or, “dragon fire strips” if you want to keep with the theme), for a healthy, savory snack.
Pesto Toast Tangram Dragons
For the pesto:
4 ounces (2-3 cups) fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
⅓ cup olive oil
⅔ cup walnuts
½ tablespoon salt
For each dragon toast:
2-3 tablespoons pesto
1 slice of bread
A few slices of red, yellow or orange bell pepper
First, make the pesto. To do so, pulse the basil and garlic together in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and add the walnuts. Add the salt, then give the pesto a taste, adding more salt or garlic if you think it's necessary. (This recipe will make about 1½ cups of pesto—far more than you'll need to make dragon toast—so portion the excess out and store it in the freezer for later use.)
When you're ready to make this snack, print out a copy of the tangram template. Cut around the outside edges of the square, but don't cut apart the pieces inside the square right away.
Now, toast the bread and cut it into a square. Precision is somewhat important here — the pieces won't line up correctly if you start with a rectangle — so I found it helpful to actually use the tangram template as a cutting guide.
Once the toast is square, cut it to match the tangram template and spread pesto on top of each piece. (You can now cut the template apart as well.)
Older kids may be able to figure out many ways to make a dragon on their own, but for younger kids you can arrange the template pieces as shown and have them arrange the toast pieces to match.
Add a few slices of bell pepper to give the dragon some fire, and enjoy this playful snack!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.