If your kids are anything like mine, then they love their carbs. And if they love their carbs, they probably have a very close relationship with mac’ and cheese. And if your kids love mac’ and cheese, chances are you’re tired of making it and wish there was another way to feed them something they love without making the boxed powdery stuff. I’ve come up with a few ways to feed our three chickens their beloved noodles (sometimes even zoodles!) beyond the orangy-yellow dish they love. This simple recipe is also a wonderful way to use the herbs growing in your garden to get some summer freshness in their little bellies! I have been making homemade pesto for years now, but only until recently have tried it with walnuts and pecorino. My usual recipe calls for pine nuts and parm, but this riff makes everything a little tastier and much more flavorful in my opinion. Traditional recipes call for handfuls of basil, but I’ve found that you can play around with the greens too and come up with fun alternatives to the classic pesto recipes. Below I’ve noted several kinds of herbs and greens that will do beautifully in a pesto, and you may just have some in your garden right now. Here’s how to make it:
Garden Herbs & Greens for Pesto:
- basil, of course
- wild garlic
- 2 cups packed garden herbs & greens – any variety of the above works!
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup pecorino cheese
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- pinch of salt & pepper
To prepare, combine the garden herbs, pecorino cheese, walnuts and garlic into the food processor and pulse until it’s coarsely chopped. Stream in the olive oil slowly as you keep processing until the pesto consistency is to your liking. Sometimes I leave mine a little pebbly – a lovely culinary word for ya. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and toss with warm noodles and more grated cheese. I have been buying quinoa noodles and the kids have no idea that they are not carbs. One point for mom! We also love nodding pesto with zoodles – zucchini noodles made from a spiralizer. This pesto is also lovely alongside grilled veggies and meat, and makes for a beautiful green pizza sauce in a pinch.
And if you’re want to make large batches of pesto because you have a lot of herbs on your hands this summer, follow the recipe above but leave out the cheese. Pour the cheese-less pesto into ice cube trays and freeze for up to 6 months or so, then add the cheese when thawing for warm noodles or a sauce. Easy peasy. The above recipe is warm quinoa noodles and steamed broccoli tossed in the garden pesto with a little extra cheese. Simple and wholesome.
I also want to say how much I love these photos of Alfie. I did not intend to have him in them but as soon as I put the pasta on the table he climbed right on up and dug in. The kids loves to eat and makes this humble home cook feel pretty darn good!