See the slideshow for tricks that turn pesto into dinner

Photographs copyright Peter Knab

Basil Pesto (page 129)

Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids

  • Pick the basil leaves.
  • Put everything in the liquidiser.
  • Blend the pesto with complete supervision.
  • Help put the pesto in the jars.
  • Seal the jars.  

My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary

Pesto is a great way to get kids involved with their food. When Jake was about 18 months old I discovered that if he was losing interest halfway through his meal I could get him to the end of it by giving him things to add himself – grated cheese, olive oil, a pepper grinder that didn’t work, or a little dish of pesto. Make sure it is a little dish though because the kids will add all of it.


I blend the pesto to a smooth puree. We find that the kids can be put off by the texture of big herb leaves – James either picks them out or sieves them through his teeth.  


Pesto is great fun for dipping too. Try raw cherry tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, or boiled green beans, new potatoes or eggs.  For carbohydrates, mix pesto with couscous, rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, quinoa, tapioca, semolina, polenta. Don’t worry, the kids won’t turn green.   

When the kids were babies, we always had some pesto at hand for purees – if you’re worried about the nuts just leave them out. The sweet basil rounds off mountains of mash, from cauliflower to red pepper, broccoli, mince, courgette, spinach, tinned tuna and salmon. 


Jake 5 years 6 months, James 2 years 10 months


I’m working on this the final copy of this recipe tonight for delivery. We just had dinner, and Jake asked 'What can we have for pudding daddy?' 

'We’ve got pineapple.' I said quickly.

'Yay,' he said, 'pie apple, apple pie, yum.'

God I love my life. Back to work.