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Wednesday, 4 February 2009 by Irene Hoofs

Kids favorite recipes using home-made pesto by Jenny Stegall from ApronStrings

We often come in at the end of a busy day and the kids are starving and I am short on energy and patience. This is the easiest time to pull out a frozen pizza or the like for their dinner. With a few secret weapons in your pantry, you can more easily get a quick, but healthy meal on the table.  One ingredient that my kitchen is never without is pesto ... it can be homemade or store- bought, but either way, it is on hand. It is super easy to make and freezes really well, but if that seems like too much hassle, there are many great ones to buy.

Pesto adds easy flavor to so many things without much effort. I love this as an ingredient to ease kids into more “adult” flavors. If you make it, they can really get in on the act- tearing off basil, pouring ingredients, etc. The smells of basil and garlic will introduce them to those flavors in a simple and first hand way and they will love the blending process to create something that everyone will enjoy eating. A good strategy is to introduce it on something that they love like pasta  or homemade pizzas. Once they are accustomed to the flavor, become more adventurous on things like fresh salmon.  You can gradually add flavors with the simple recipe ideas below. These are some of my kids favorite recipes using pesto- enjoy! Beware, they sound like real food!

What you will need for Classic Pesto
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


To do:
Process nuts and garlic in a blender or food processor for thirty seconds. Add basil, salt, and pepper. While processor is running, add oil. Add cheese and process for one minute. Use immediately or store sealed with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas:
*Add pesto to your kids favorite cooked pasta and toss with fresh or frozen peas. The warm pasta will cook the peas so one less step!

Pan Seared Pesto Salmon on Orzo with Roasted  Vine Tomatoes:
*Sprinkle salmon with with pesto and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear salmon pesto side down in a little olive oil over high heat for two minutes. Turn the fish and finish the dish in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. You will be surprised how many little ones will eat this with orzo.

Pesto and Prosciutto Flatbread Pizzas:

Spread pesto over flatbreads or pita breads. Top with prosciutto or  any other thin ham. You can add favorite toppings like cheese or tomatoes. Bake on a  pizza stone or sheet pan at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

..Jenny from ApronStrings..

..contact Jenny for questions..

..Jenny's personal blog..

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thanks, jenny. i need to figure out how to make a yummy pesto without the parm, as my son is allergic to milk proteins. this recipe looks like a great starting point. yum!

yum, jenny! this looks amazing.

do you have an alternative for the pesto for those of us living in places where basil won't be in season till summertime? in san francisco you're lucky to have almost everything available at your fingertips all the time.

it's great to see this spot on bloesem kids...look forward to reading (and tasting) more.

i love pesto sauce! just wonder how long can we keep the homemade sauce in the fridge? thanks!

I love pesto and usually buy ready-made, but I would love to try my own. I used some last night to spread on garlic naan "pizzas" topped with grilled zucchini, shallots and three cheeses (feta, chevre and parmesan) for the adults and it was super easy to adapt to make a more kid-friendly version too.

Hello cooking friends. I thought I would answer your questions this way.
1.)I have made pesto without cheese for non-dairy friends. It is not as rich, but very fresh so just omit the cheese! Another alternative is mild-tasting miso which is used by a lot of vegans.
2.) The pesto will keep safely for up to five days in the fridge, but longer than that might pose health risks so eat up!

Happy Cooking!

oops, jenny...i meant to say an alternative to the basil-not the pesto. sheesh! that's what i get for trying to type early in the morn. anyway, yes, do you make any other kinds of pesto other than basil?

Can you provide details on the orzo? Do you just cook to the package directions and then add chopped tomatoes? Sorry, it sounds good - I can't wait to try it!