I’ll admit, previously, I’ve been one of those people that boil a batch of pasta and then tips in their pesto from a jar. I’ll go one step further and admit that in fact I’m not pesto’s biggest fan; I have a love hate relationship with Basil and can find pesto just too Basily and overpowering. Having said all this I am also aware of the joys of fresh pesto and the simplicity of making it from scratch but just never got round to it as it wasn’t a fave – until now that is. So, last week I decided it was time to right this wrong and I made my first batch of homemade pesto but in an attempt to get my son eating ground almonds (long story but there’s a potential peanut allergy lurking about and so it’s good to up his exposure to the other ground nuts) I wanted it to replace pine nuts for ground almonds hoping for milder flavour. The result was a delicious well rounded, tasty and delicate pesto that in fact I loved and totally bombed with my son. He not only point blankly refused to open his mouth and even try it, he went one step further and cemented his contempt for it by throwing his on the floor with gumption. Ah the joys. However, the next day I dolloped a spoonful of it over some Pollack before steaming it and it was gobbled up – mum 1 baby 0!
Original recipe is from the River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook, I dialled down the amount of basil I used and added a tiny bit more parmesan and ground almonds.
You’ll need a food processor. I’m short of counter space so treated myself to this compact little beast for the princely sum of £14 and although it is on the small side, it’s revolutionised my culinary life!
55g Ground almonds
40g Bunch of basil leaves (you don’t want the stalks)
1 Garlic clove, crushed (I crushed it before blitzing to avoid junior finding any chunks but you can just add it whole)
40g Parmesan (more to go on top if you’re that way inclined which I am!)
100ml Olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Blitz the Parmesan in your food processor until reduced to fine crumbs then add the basil, garlic and almonds and blitz again until it’s a paste – this will only take a minute. With the motor running pour in the olive oil until it all comes together into a thick paste. Scrape it out into a bowl, season with a good squeeze of lemon and some black pepper (easy on this if you’re giving to babies or small people) and hey presto! This will keep in your fridge in a covered bowl or Tupperware for a couple of days.
For tiny people: Try serving with penne or dolloping over chicken fillets/fish and cooking in the oven – pasta and chicken options are great when they’re at the stage of wanting to feed themselves.