We make pesto of some sort at least once a week, it’s so easy that most of the time my two year old daughter makes it (supervised of course), it takes about 5 minutes start to finish (clean up from toddler cooking–add an extra 30-60 minutes). On a side note, I realized that if E. makes something, she is more apt to eat it, it might be a good ‘trick’ to motivate those picky eaters to try something new. You won’t need any special skills, but a blender or food processor and you can really get creative with your ingredients. Pesto is incredibly versatile it can be used on pasta (our fave), spread on bread or crackers, used as a dip for veggies, we’ve even been known to use them with our scrambled eggs! Mastering this culinary taskmaster is not only easy, but it gives you cred in the kitchen (perfect for a newbie chef)!
We have been using spinach instead of the traditional basil because we usually have a bag on hand, you can of course add some basil to your spinach pesto, sometimes we’ll add a handful of leaves if we have.
3-4 cups Spinach firmly packed (we use a bag of Trader Joe’s organic baby spinach, you can sub for all basil or add some basil leaves, we’ve even used Kale, optional)
Garlic (2 peeled large cloves, or 3 small ones)
1/3 cup Olive Oil (don’t pour in all at once!)
3-4 T Parmesan
Salt & Pepper (a pinch)
1/4 cup Almonds (you can omit or switch them up and try walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, or the traditional pine nut, experiment! You can roast but we don’t)
We do this as a dump all your ingredients (except the olive oil) into the food processor or blender situation. I put the garlic at the bottom so it gets chopped nice and fine (you don’t want to chomp on a giant piece of garlic). We start with about a tablespoon pour of olive oil and pulse, we keep slowly adding the oil and pulsing until the pesto is finely chopped and resembles a thick paste, you may have to scrape the sides down with the spatula a few times after pulsing. You may not even need to use the entire olive oil!
To use for pasta just cook your pasta as directed on package and drain, we return the pasta to the now empty pot and start stirring in the pesto to coat the noodles. The heat from the pasta is sufficient to warm up the sauce, we sprinkle a little more parm on and dinner is served! Pesto also freezes beautifully, making this meal come together even faster! Enjoy!
//ALTERNATE PESTO RECIPES TO EXPLORE//
Brazil nut & argula pesto
Pea & spinach pesto
Roasted red pepper pesto
Sun-dried tomato pesto