When I’m creating food in the kitchen, a heavy calm trickles over me. Whether it’s a planned meal or something I throw together in a mad dash, I derive great pleasure from rummaging and thinking about ingredients, washing and cutting, sautéing and layering flavours.
The most difficult part of my meal planning is coming up with nutritious meals to cook that my toddlers will actually eat. It’s always a toss up. One day I could serve them something I thought they loved, and the next day they won’t touch it. It’s the baby and toddler way.
As my Stage 1 baby eaters have progressed into Stage 2 and Stage 3 – I’ve had a bit of experience with getting extra creative in the kitchen. Last night I made a green pesto dish served up with rice pasta and you’ll be surprised to hear what went in it and how fast it was gobbled up by my picky little eaters (19 months and 3 years old), making a great week-night last minute meal.
Kale, swiss chard, sunflower seed pesto my friends. That’s right. Quick, ridiculously good for them (and you) and easy! Recipe below.
Guaranteed Little People Pleaser...
Simple, step-by-step recipe up ahead!
I’m not much for measuring when I cook – it’s more of a creative outlet of experimentation for me and I’ve learned to trust my instincts over the years as I’ve developed my culinary skills and palate. Baking, on the other hand, – is a science. I always measure. I threw all of the listed ingredients together (equal parts, a little more olive oil) and blended until I had the creamy consistency of a thick and shiny pesto. Add smashed garlic to your personal taste as you're blending, and it’s all done in minutes.
I made a boatload of it, which of course, you don’t have to. I just had a lot of kale and swiss chard to use up and knew that I would be freezing a few mason jars of it for our family to eat up over the spring into the summer.
Your Choice of Noodle
We had ours hot, to benefit lots of delicious melty cheese, but you could totally serve this as a cold salad with cucumbers and tomatoes.
There are a plethora of ways you could serve this. Pasta is always a good choice for little ones. I’ve served the pesto with spelt soba noodles and brown rice fusilli. You can sauté any other additional ingredients you’d like to add to this dish. I went with peppers, mushrooms, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Chicken would be a great addition to this, but not necessary, as enough protein is to be had from the sunflower seeds in the pesto.
Do not forgo this ingredient. It’s the stuff all little ones go for and could possibly the binding ingredient to the popularity of this dish. I suggest asiago.
It's All in the Cheese
I know not of a baby or toddler who does not covet thy cheese. Generously sprinkle their serving with grated asiago (or parmesan).
Mid-way through dinner, my little girl particularly LOVED this dish and ‘mmmmm’d’ her way throughout.
Leftovers (Can you tell I love mason and ball jars?)
We use them for everything. Drinking glasses (the sturdiest!), food storage, canning, preserving, and freezing. I also make a lot of my own bath products and use various sizes of jars for that stuff too. Oh, and I like to put pretty flowers and herbs in them around the house as well. Now that I’ve completely digressed, you may have gathered by now that you can freeze your leftover pesto in these.