Pesto

Fresh homemade pesto is such a brilliant item to have in the fridge at all times as it’s completely delicious (SO much more tasty than a shop bought equivalent), easy to make, calcium-rich and really versatile.

Some great 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.

Basic 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 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

-       Remove the parmesan or use a dairy-free cheese for a dairy free version.

I like to add two or three garlic cloves for a “grown-up” version as this gives the pesto 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 of age once you’re sure your baby doesn’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 and limit pesto consumption to occasional use (once-twice per week) as parmesan has a high salt content.

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