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18th Feb 2015

Family-friendly mid-term recipes from our guest blogger: Pistachio basil pesto

School's out – get cooking with the kids

Suzanne Leyden

You just can’t beat the versatility of a tasty pesto. I’ve made pesto for years with pine nuts and recently switched them for pistachios when it takes my fancy. It lends more depth to the classic and has a crunchy bite. I always have a jar of it on-the-go in the fridge. Made with good quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil it’s so much healthier than shop bought pesto, plus it’s really quick to prepare. My kids love to muck in with this one, picking the leaves off the plant and giving their opinion on whether it needs more of one or other ingredient.

It makes for a very quick ‘go-to’ dinner with pasta and a tin of tuna thrown in, or a dollop on a baked sweet potato with a side salad and some salmon, smoked or baked. Taking it back to basics, it can be used as a yummy spread in a sandwich. I’ve shown it here in all its glory with some carrot crudités and bread – devoured by me and the boys shortly after the photos were taken.


150g Pistachios

Basil plant

1 Garlic clove

150ml Extra virgin olive oil

30g Parmesan

Makes one large recycled jam jar.


1 Lightly toast the pistachios by placing them on their own in a frying pan over a medium heat. Toss them around the pan, but stand over with a watchful eye because they can get overdone quite easily. As soon as you see the slightly golden colour appearing, take off the heat and transfer to a plate to cool thoroughly. If they are too warm, they heat the basil leaves too much.

2 Take the basil plant and remove all the leaves and place in a small blender. A food processor is fine too; it’s just that the quantities work well in the small blender.

3 Add in the cooled pistachios and 100mls of the olive oil and the garlic and blitz. Add the rest of the oil a small bit at a time until you get the consistency you like. Try not to over blitz because the chunkiness of the pistachios is a real treat.

4 Once you’re happy with the consistency, add the parmesan and blend again. You may decide to add more of the oil at this stage.

5 This is one of those recipes that once you get used to making, you’ll no longer need to weigh everything out; it can be measured loosely and on instinct. The quantities can be far from exact, and it’s a good one to fling together with little or no thought.

Suzanne Leyden is a Diet, Health and Wellness Coach, mum of two (cute) boys, a businesswoman and a busy woman with a passion for nutrition and dietary excellence. She works to improve people’s health and wellbeing through sustainable diet and lifestyle changes – restoring balance and health to families. For her @suzanneleyden for daily wellness updates. 


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