Pesto is one of my favorite things to kick up a boring dish. It's simple and versatile and deliciously healthy. Typically basil is used but did you know you can use other greens like spinach, kale or even carrot tops? Basil is growing like crazy in my garden right now but I chose a big handful or two of baby spinach and then tossed in a few basil leaves to tone down the pungent flavor so that my kids would eat it.
It worked, score! My kids willingly ate a big bowl of spinach and were none the wiser.
I think it's important to serve a variety of colors and textures to your kids so that they get used to trying new things and have a balanced, healthy diet. Green is usually the hardest color to get my kids to eat, especially if it's not served in a typical fashion, like this pasta. They love salad and broccoli but will turn there noses up if I put collard greens in soup or kale in pasta. I keep at it though because I'm very attached to my leafy greens and am holding on to the hope that my kids will eventually get over there unwarranted loathing for them.
This pesto whips up in just a couple of minutes and can be used in pasta, as a dip on top of crusty bread
layered with fresh tomatoes or on top of baked fish. The raw garlic is a healthy addition and adds a pop of spiciness to the pasta, I add several cloves but if you haven't built up a tolerance for loads of garlic like me, start with just one clove. Don't forget the Parmesan, it really goes well with pesto.
I like using rotini pasta because it holds the pesto well.
1 box of rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt (preferably Himalayan pink sea salt)
Put spinach, basil, nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse till smooth while drizzling in olive oil. Add a bit of water if needed to desired consistency. Add salt and pulse till combined.
Toss pesto with the cooked pasta. Serve warm, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
What are you planning on making for dinner during the hot summer months?