Pesto is for Kids Too

Pesto might sound like it is for pasta lovers who love gourmet but kids really love its salty taste.   If you have kids that won't eat greens try sneaking some pesto into their diet either on pasta or in some eggs.  You can also try making pesto lasagna or pesto pizza, which my kid calls 'Green Pizza' 

So just what is pesto?  It is a sauce made out of fresh basil leaves, cheese (either Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino), pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Recipes for it vary from cook to cook. The fun thing about pesto is deciding on the proportion with which you want to combine the ingredients. 

Pine nuts are actually the seeds produced by certain varieties of pine tree; they are found on the pine cones, where they are covered by a hard shell. However it is the olive oil that makes pesto so healthy. Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is – freshly pressed from the fruit. You can't beat pesto in terms of nutrition.  The basil in it contains iron, calcium, Vitamin A, dietary fiber, magnesium, Vitamin A and calcium.

The flavenoids in Basil are antioxidants that protect human cells against disease and pollution. Basil also contain antibacterial agents that protect against bacteria so your child is less likely to pick up a bug at school. 

The garlic, also known has Russian penicillin is a potent source of antiviral and antibacterial agents. The cheese in pesto is also a high source of calcium so your kid can grow strong bones and teeth. 

If you really want to make it gourmet then you might want to try to add bacon, mushrooms and finely chopped shallots to the pesto recipe. Another great combination is to add cream cheese and broccoli to the pesto mix. If your kids like red tomato sauce it is also really easy to add tomatoes to a pesto pasta sauce so that they don't know that they are eating anything green at all!

You can also sneak that pesto into your kid's lunchbox.  Pesto and cream cheese sandwiches are delicious.  You can also mix it into an omelette for a different, yet tasty type of breakfast. If you are the ambitious type you can make your own pesto and even involve your kids in the entire exercise by growing basil plants. Your child can help you harvest the basil leaves and mash them with a mortar and pestle. 

Once picked you have to use basil immediately. Basil doesn’t keep well in the fridge. If you must refrigerate it, put the stems of fresh-picked basil in a glass of water, and cover with a plastic bag; it will keep for about a week Raw pine nuts should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to one month.

In the freezer, pine nuts will keep for up to three months. Different types of Parmesan, Mozzarella and Romano cheeses can give your pesto a unique flavor. Don't be afraid to experiment with combinations to find the mix of cheeses that your kids will find irresistible.