Kitchen Humanities: Quick Tomato Dinner

Look at everything!
Come to Your SensesSmell, taste, feel, listen, look at everything!


In this 8th grade humanities lesson, students prepare Quick Tomato Dinner while refining their tasting skills. Students use sensory vocabulary to make observations about the ingredients in the recipe before, during, and after cooking.


After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Use descriptive vocabulary to articulate opinions and observations
  • Taste ingredients and adjust recipes accordingly
  • Appreciate bio-diversity, seasonality, and the importance of variety


During this lesson, students will:

  • Engage all of their senses and use descriptive vocabulary to discuss their experience
  • Adapt the recipe based on how the raw ingredients taste
  • Identify tomatoes as “in-season,” taste different varieties of tomatoes, and describe the differences


For the Chef Meeting

  • Quick Tomato Dinner recipe
  • Ingredients and tools for demonstration
  • Visual aid


  • Tomatoes (a mix of varieties)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bread
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Cast iron skillet or an oven proof dish
  • Cheese grater
  • Measuring cups
  • Chef knives
  • Paring knives
  • Cutting boards


  • Stove
  • Oven

Before You Begin

  • Collect all the tools and ingredients and distribute them to the tables
  • Gather the supplies for the Chef Meeting
  • Create the visual aid
  • Copy the Quick Tomato Dinner recipe to hand out


At the Chef Meeting

  1. Welcome the students back to the kitchen and introduce the Quick Tomato Dinner as an opportunity to hone their tasting skills.
  2. Goals, decisions, results
  3. Ask the students to identify their five senses and explain why it is important to use all of your senses when you cook. Tell the students that a focal point for the 8th grade rotation is to develop sensory vocabulary. This will allow them to objectively identify qualities and characteristics of ingredients and then articulate their preferences.
  4. Explain that as 8th graders, they will refine their tasting skills and go deeper into what it means to be a cook. Students will taste the ingredients throughout the cooking process and in the completed recipe.
  5. Ask the students why it is important to taste raw ingredients.
  6. It is important to know the ingredients you are working with.
  7. Tasting all components of the recipe raw can determine how you prepare, cook, and season the dish.
  8. Knowing what the ingredients are like before you cook them also reveals the transformation and melding of flavors and textures when they are cooked.
  9. As a chef, knowing your preferences is essential.
  10. Invite students to define variety in relation to the garden and the kitchen. Explain that different varieties of the same fruit or vegetable have different qualities and characteristics, and using different varieties is a way to add depth and flavor to your dish.
  11. Ask the students to wash their hands and join their table group.

At the Table

  1. Introduce the ingredients and revisit the question: why is it important to taste your raw ingredients?
  2. Introduce the tasting activity.
  3. Ask students to put ingredients aside on a tasting plate as they go. The finished tasting plate should contain basil, bread, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and at least two different types of tomatoes.
  4. Review the recipe and assign jobs.
  5. Prepare the recipe.
  6. While the pasta is in the oven, taste the different ingredients and varieties and discuss each using sensory vocabulary.
  7. Set the table; eat; clean up.

At the Closing Circle

Ask students to use their sensory vocabulary to describe one ingredient from the tasting platter.



Download: Senses Visual Aid

Download: Sensory Vocabulary Visual Aid

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