Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fresh from the garden pesto

Lest you think we only bake here, today we made pesto.  After a quick run and some playtime at the park Addy and I hit the garden.  We picked all the basil and stripped the leaves from the stems.  Addy helped pick and pluck for awhile and then went off to draw with chalk.  Although her figures are just lines, today was the first time I heard her talking about what she was drawing without me prompting.  It was nice to sit beside her with my hands busy but my ears open to what she was contemplating.  We were able to really take the morning at her pace even while getting a task accomplished from my list.  I find that it really helps her behave well if part of the day she gets to set the pace.  Since we had a busy afternoon planned I made sure to follow her lead this morning.

About the time I was done stripping the basil, she was ready to head in for a snack.  She ate a popsicle made from this morning's smoothies while I toasted pine nuts and walnuts together just until they had just a little more color.  Then she helped me with the blender.  We chunked the Parmesan cheese into it and grated it up then poured it out into a separate bowl to be able to measure it for the multiple batches.  Then we ground up the nuts in the blender and dumped them into their own bowl as well.  I think this would be easier to make in a food processor but I don't know since I don't actually have one.  My blender had to work pretty hard to make the thick paste that I like.  However it did persevere and we were able to make 3 batches of pesto using up all the basil.  Each batch makes enough for two pasta meals so I froze 5 small bags of pesto and saved one portion for tonight's dinner.

While we made the pesto Addy tasted and smelled each ingredient.  She didn't like the cheese but did enjoy the walnuts.  She liked the smell of the basil but said the garlic was too spicy.  As a whole though she likes pesto.  She enjoyed it fresh on some pretzels this morning and really gobbled it up on the ravioli tonight.  This is another example of how she gets to use her five senses while cooking.  With older children you can talk about senses and the science behind them as you cook.

Basil Pesto:

2 cups packed fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts or a combination
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil (if your blender balks you can always add a little bit more oil)
2-4 cloves of garlic (our garlic is a little on the small side so we used four cloves)
salt to taste

Blend until smooth. Refrigerate or freeze.  When you serve it with pasta you can stir in some of the pasta cooking water to make it more saucy.  It does tend to oxidize so cover with plastic wrap touching the surface if you are storing it in a bowl or smooth all of the air out if you are storing it in a baggy.

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