Just recently, I’ve been making my own pesto.
It all started when my sister-in-law told me she whipped it up regularly. And when I looked at her, amazed, she told me that it really wasn’t very hard at all – particularly if you have a mini-chopper-type gadget to do the blending for you.
It’s made me realise that quite often, I dismiss an element of family cookery outright for being too difficult – when actually I’m just too tired to get my head around it. Or too weighed down with my internal to-do list and hubbub and noise of life with three children.
So since then, I’ve made pesto a few times. And you know what? She’s right – it’s really easy. It takes just five minutes, can you believe? Plus there’s something really very satisfying about blending basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese to a pulp in a mini-chopper.
I’ve also made it using a pestle and mortar, which takes longer and I don’t find quite as therapeutic.
But either way, as I’m sure you can guess, it’s far tastier and healthier than anything jarred. Plus it only has a smidge of salt, all fresh ingredients and no preservatives.
I was asked to make this to support ‘Eat for Goals!’ – a free interactive cookery app for kids, developed by the World Heart Federation with the support of UEFA.
Endorsed by the British Heart Foundation, the aim of the app is to encourage kids to cook and eat healthily in order to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. I’m all for it.
Football-mad kids will be in heaven: the app features recipes from 11 of the world’s leading male and female footballers, including Frank Lampard, Stephen Gerrard, Rachel Yankey, Yaya Touré and Cristiano Ronaldo.
You’ll find recipes for the players’ favourite dishes, including crunchy cod, fruit salad and Brazilian black bean stew. Each recipe is super-nutritious and, being designed for kids aged 7 plus, is complicated enough to stay interesting without being so hard that they can’t be bothered to try.
I thought the app was pretty easy to use. You can scroll through by recipe, or search by player (and also find out what they like to eat before or after a match.)
Alternatively, score a goal with the football game, and you’ll ‘win’ a recipe, which is a nice touch.
Whichever recipe your child chooses, the ingredients appear on the screen one by one, so you never get to see them as a list. However, as a mum, I did find this a bit frustrating when trying to quickly jot down a shopping list.
Recipe for pesto with pasta and grilled or roasted vegetables
My middle daughter and I made the pasta with pesto and grilled or roasted vegetables. She was a whizz with all the veg chopping.
But I have to say that I made the pesto without her, when I could be alone with my mini-chopper. Just me and the pulping.
The pesto pasta was delicious although of course the kids went all wobbly and refusenik about the roasted vegetables. (Sorry, Carles.) But it meant there was enough veg left for me to take to work for lunch the next day too.
Carles Puyol’s recipe for pasta with pesto and grilled vegetables
1 red onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 aubergine, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced and deseeded
1 tbsp olive oil
160g dried pasta
2 tbsp pesto
Spread the chopped vegetables onto a grill pan or flat roasting tray. Pour half the oil over them.
Stir so they are coated with oil, place under a grill or in an oven heated to 200°C and grill or roast, turning them a couple of times until soft.
In a large pan, cover the pasta with boiled water. Add some olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
Give it a stir and boil depending on packet instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander.
Mix the pesto and grilled/ roasted vegetables with the cooked pasta. Serve.
Half clove garlic, chopped
1 handful of basil, stalks discarded
25g pine nuts
40 to 60ml of olive oil
Put the garlic and pine nuts into a mini-chopper or pestle and mortar and grind. Add the basil and repeat.
Add 40ml of oil. Taste, and adjust seasoning and add more olive oil as required. Stir into pasta