Pesto sauce offers a perfect way to up your kids’ daily intake of veggies without them really noticing. I used to buy fresh organic pesto at a health food store and run it through my food processor with a handful of spinach or kale leaves for extra nutrients.
However, making your own pesto is easy as pie and you can really blend in anything green you have on hand, such as arugula, spinach, kale, Swiss chard leaves, basil, parsley, cilantro, or a mix of these. I like adding avocado for an extra creamy structure, and because my kids don’t like the taste of plain avocado but easily accept it in a pesto sauce.
Real pesto always includes a nut - usually pine nuts - but you can use anything from Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, or almonds, to pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
Pesto also calls for some tanginess which is why I always use lemon juice and zest. But salt or vinegar also works to add flavour. And last but not least, I always blend in some freshly grated parmesan or grana Padano which completes the taste of this recipe.
I like to serve this pesto over brown rice pasta, with mushrooms for an extra immunity boost.
The icing on the cake in this recipe is the little egg yolk nested in the middle of each plate. Not only does it add an excellent source of healthy fat and protein, egg yolks are high in vitamin A, D, E, K, B, and selenium, making them an excellent antioxidant. The yolk is in fact the healthiest part of the egg and is best eaten lightly cooked or raw (as long as it’s free-range and organic).
And your kids will love piercing their egg yolk!
- Pasta of your choice (I usually use brown rice pasta)
- 500g or 17 oz. crimini or shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 organic egg yolks
For the pesto:
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 1 large avocado
- 1 cup fresh basil
- ¼ cup nuts (pine nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- Lemon juice + zest (to taste)
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan (+ more to serve)
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Heat a large pot of water for the pasta
- While waiting for the water to boil, fry the mushrooms over medium heat for about 5 minutes until they’re soft. Keep warm.
- Add the pasta to the pan of boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto by blending all ingredients in a food processor. Add a few spoons of the pasta cooking water or just plain water to thin out the sauce.
- Drain the pasta and mix in the pesto sauce. Serve the pasta pesto on the plates, top it with the mushrooms and some freshly grated parmesan, and place an egg yolk in the middle of each plate.