Fresh homemade pesto is such a great item to have in the fridge at all times.
It’s completely delicious, easy to make, calcium-rich and really versatile.
These are my favourite ways to use pesto:
- Add to cheese or chicken sandwiches for a tasty picnic or easy children’s lunch box;
- Spread on an oatcake for a satisfying snack;
- decorate humous with a spoonful of pesto to give your dip a colourful lift;
- Blend into homemade cheese muffins, bread or frittata;
- Dollop on top of homemade pizza;
- Stir into pasta or gnocchi;
- Top a fillet of salmon with pesto before roasting for a quick supper.
My basic pesto recipe
(this pesto keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge and can be frozen)
Blitz all of the following in a food processor:
50g pine nuts
50g grated parmesan
big handful of basil
1 crushed garlic clove
A few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (add at the end so you can stop when you get to your preferred consistency)
I really encourage you to experiment with the ingredients to see what you and your children like best:
- Substitute the basil in whole or part for lightly steamed spinach, kale or peas;
- Toast the pine nuts for a richer taste (this also makes the pesto a much darker green colour so not as light and summery as you might like for this time of year).
- Substitute pine nuts for pistachios
- Add a squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juice
For a more “grown up” pesto, I like to add two or three garlic cloves as this gives it a real kick and has the added benefit of providing a boost to the immune system. Raw garlic is also great for gut health as it contains prebiotics – the fibre that helps the colonisation of beneficial bacteria within the gut.
You can give your baby pesto from 6 months, once you’re sure they don’t have any nut allergies and provided the pine nuts are properly whizzed up to avoid any choking hazard.
However it’s best to use sparingly in your baby’s meals until they are one years and over, as parmesan has a high salt content (once or twice per week is fine).
Mary van der Westhuizen a fully qualified, registered Nutritional Therapist, who works with clients to achieve optimum health during pregnancy and for babies and young children.
Since 2013 she has been running baby weaning workshops for Lulubaby. She is a regularly contribute to parenting magazines and websites and is Mumfidential’s Nutrition Expert. For more information or to book a consultation see www.maryvdw.com