Pesto is such a great food, it’s really quick to make it from scratch and tastes delicious. Traditional pesto has cheese but it can easily be left out or replaced with nutritional yeast, which gives it a nice flavour and lots of B vitamins. You can buy vegan pesto too, but it’s really easy to make. You can mix it up by using any kind of nuts and herbs you like, or kale or wild garlic. Pine nuts are delicious but pretty expensive so I like to make it with cashews. They contain loads of protein and loads of iron. I love making it with spinach so it’s really, really high in iron, and add some fresh basil too for that lovely flavour. Nobody even needs to know there’s spinach in it if they don’t like it! This recipe is also oil-free but has healthy fats from the cashews. If you want then feel free to add some extra virgin olive oil, but it’s also nice without it.
I used to make this for Rian all the time when he used to go to a crèche when he was younger. He was going through a fussy toddler phase and only wanted carby foods like pasta, but luckily he loved this pesto! Like a lot of childcare places, he couldn’t bring nuts to the crèche so I used to use sunflower seeds in place of cashews, so feel free to do that.
The pesto goes really nicely with pasta or boiled baby potatoes, in sandwiches or wraps, with salad or on a pizza. I like to serve it on pasta with some raw or roasted cherry tomatoes, and in these photos had that with a tian (thinly sliced roasted aubergine, courgette and tomatoes).
As you can see from the photos, it’s very much baby and 3 year old approved! They love it. It’s so good to be able to get some greens into them. So many kids love pasta and I love making a healthy sauce to go on it as an easy way to get them to eat veg.
1/2 cup cashews
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 handful of fresh basil
1 peeled clove of garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (optional)
Sea salt (optional)
How it’s made:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. (You can leave the salt out til last if you want to leave it out of kids’ portions.)
Blend it all up until it reaches the consistency you like. If using a blender you might have to mix it up a few times to get it all blended.
Serve mixed with cooked pasta, boiled baby potatoes, in a sandwich or salad or however you like!