Pesto for Pests

A Project by Which Children Can Learn The Mechanics Behind The Ketchup of the Foodie Class

August is a school-less stretch of unscheduled time. This is the summer month where—if you’re not lucky enough to be on vacation or staffed up with nannies—by 10:30, if you’re not out of the house with your kids, a squirrely insanity sets in. People get desperate. They take their kids on unecessary trips to Target for household provisions. They take them to the city zoo in 90 degree afternoon heat to see the sweltering lions and the recently widowed elephant. They make homemade pesto.

Which is what my wife did a few days ago. I came home from work to see my kids eating—along with their heavy-rotation dinner of halved cherry tomatoes and scrambled farmers market eggs—little toastettes, toast points, soldiers, what have you, spread with a vibrant green pesto, so fresh, so unoxidized, so un-oily, so un- (not in-) convenient. So not the usual plastic-tub, refrigerator case stuff that we toss with just about everything we want them to eat: tortellini, whole wheat pasta, as a garnish for eggs. It was garlicky, deepened with all that Italian parmesan umami depth, and fresh with basil flavor. Fresh as leaves. Fresh as summer. I joined them. We had seconds. Thirds. We could eat it forever.

The backstory: My wife and my kids were bored. It was too late in the day for the beach. Too early in the day to unleash the 1 (ish) hour of television rations. We had a surplus of basil from the farmers market. They made pesto. My girl grated some of the parm, cutting her finger on the box grater in the process. My wife grated some of the parm, cutting her finger in the process. The kids took turns pulsing the food processor (okay, so they didn’t go all handmade, mortal and pestle like the Ligurians, but it was still pretty hardcore for a motley band of the ages 2, 5, and 35). It was noisy. It was a process. It was delicious. It was is, as my daughter said, "yummy, great, a little spicy!" (from the fresh garlic)

the recipe:

Pesto for Pests

3 cloves garlic, sliced up
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups basil, rinsed, dried, packed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan
salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon

Throw it in a food processor, pulse it until it’s just how you want it.

Ideas for kid food:
on halved cherry tomatoes
as a garnish for scrambled eggs
on crostini
as a sauce for meat, chicken, fish
pasta of course (for the kids, whole wheat)
on sandwiches

What else??

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