Pesto pasta is often the default option for the kids' dinner when the cupboard is bare and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever as long as you follow my 7 pesky pesto rules to turn a mundane supper into a superfood triumph!
1. Make it from scratch as it's EASY, TAKES LESS THAN 5 MINUTES AND IS FREEZEABLE IN BATCHES, as per the photo. Once you try it, trust me, you will NEVER buy the bought stuff again. It's a different class. If you freeze it in small portion sizes (icecube tray/cupcake cases), they will defrost quickly, but do not heat them in a pan/microwave to defrost, as the cheese will fry and and the outcome is stringy.
2. Vary the nut to vary the nutrition. The classic version uses pine nuts, but peanuts can turn it into as Asian style one (with coriander), and our household likes cashews. Also try hazelnuts and walnuts. Different nuts contain different amount of oils so you will need to change the amount of the oil that you add. My latest endeavour uses 1 cup of almonds, 1 cup of grated parmesan, 50 ml olive oil, handful of green salad kale, 1 clove of garlic, pepper and a pinch of salt. Blend in the food processor and keep tasting it. Add enough oil so it shines and looks less like an abrasive facial scrub!
3. Change the cheese - Parmesan and Pecorino are my favourites but you could omit it entirely for a vegan option. Parmesan is pretty good value at the HK Football Club by the way, and you don't need to be a member to use the shop as they accept cash, although you should of course be with a member...
5. Vary the vegetable. Basil doesn't grow in HK over the summer as it's just too hot for it, so try sundried tomatos, spinach or the most nutrient dense vegetable on our planet, kale. These ones in the picture use NZ kale from the Fresh Grower, where you can get 10% off through July for orders over $400. They have 3 kinds of kale right now and many other green vegetables including baby spinach which should also work well. Quote mangomenus at checkout.
6. Pick a pasta - no need to give your kids the same old pasta every day, usually made from refined durum wheat. For a start, buy wholegrain varieties, and consider pastas made from ingredients other than wheat to give them a more varied, balanced diet. Iherb has a wide selection of these including quinoa spaghetti and gluten free shapes made from brown rice and flax. You can view these here in this handy shopping cart that I put together.
7. Add more protein - A poached egg, grilled chicken breast, steak or piece of baked white fish on top of your bowl of pasta is a good addition to increase the protein your children need for growing bones.