I have always thought of myself as an organised person but since having Cole I have begun to realise that I am not nearly as organised as a person needs to be when at the beck and call of an eight month old baby.
My weekend meal preps are absolutely essential for lessening the mid-week meltdowns and these days I seem to be having them just as regularly as Cole. His 6-12 month sleep regression was right on cue and at any given moment I can be found sitting in front of his high chair with dead eyes manically singing Starlight Express in a bid to quell his tears brought on by hunger, tiredness or teething. When you have caught your baby’s bronchiolitis and are desperately rasping out I am The Starlight as a tool to widen his smile and cram a little bit more sweet potato in his mouth you know that something in your life needs to be easy.
The food I am feeding myself and my family at the moment is just that – easy. Especially since turning my Sunday afternoons over to meal prep which takes the edge off cooking whole meals from scratch, an intimidating prospect at the end of a long long long day which may or may not have bled through from the day before. If I have done my meal prep properly at the weekend then I don’t find myself automatically reaching for a revolver or even the takeaway menus at 7pm (the latter of which I truly truly need to throw away).
I have found that besides a weekly casserole or some sort of bolognaise that curry pastes, salad dressings and spice mixes are just as essential to prepare for the week as whole meals. They add versatility and possibility to evening meals which can otherwise feel stagnant if you’ve only prepped whole meals on the Sunday. And it is at this point of my life where pesto has truly come into its own in my kitchen.
I soon came to realise when making my bi-weekly pesto that in order to keep myself interested I needed to twist the essential ingredients around and I have been pestoing up a bunch of different combos. Actually also a great way of using up dead ends of fridgey stuff. This Three Herb Sun Pesto I’m posting about today though has been my favourite incarnation so far, so much so that I made it twice in a row, which suddenly meant it was worthwhile to share.
These days you can be quite loose with the term pesto but for me there are a few key points and having tried a few incarnations of pesto over these past few weeks I have come to realise that parmesan is absolutely essential. Its absence really ruined a couple of batches for me, the savoury depth was definitely lacking. (In fact if you look closely at my ingredients photo you’ll see the parmesan missing, because I took that photo before I realised my heinous error). The other necessities for me to able to call it a pesto in good conscience are some sort of herb and nuts or seeds.
I say seed here because I eat tonnes of nuts. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I always feel the crunch of a nut or the creamy nature of a nut butter will improve anything sweet or savoury I care to make. Not to mention snacking. So in order to mix it up a bit I’ve recently begun opening the door to seeds. They previously have sat neglected at the back of my larder until I deem the use-by date an embarrassment and throw them away, but now they are enjoying a new lease of life. It’s an exciting time for seeds. And at this time, on this night, in this very pesto I have used sunflower seeds. They mingle rather well with the other players, showering the zestiness of lemon with compliments, rubbing shoulders with the spiciness of the olive oil and lending an earthy gravitas to the brightness of the herbs.
And did I mention, three herbs! Yes this pesto is so spoilt with love. Basil has taken the lead again but with the addition of coriander and parsley the medley of fresh flavour is joyous. I tend to think of parsley as the sensible herb and coriander as the party herb so they really round out the punchy quality of the basil. The quantities of the herbs can be a little flexible, I developed this recipe at the whim of the size of the bags I got from Ocado. If I wanted to shove one finger up at the paltry little overpriced baggies the supermarkets provide then I would get my herbs from our local organic shop or the farmer’s market. But you know what, I’m not in that place right now, I’m all for ease and for that reason, these guys do just fine.
I should also mention I used roasted garlic here, and I usually have a spare clove or two knocking around my fridge since I roast a whole bulb along with my Sunday meal prepped veggies. I love using roasted garlic in my pesto for its gentle sweetness and also to lose the sharpness of it in raw form since Cole normally partakes as well. But no worries if you don’t want to go to the lengths of roasting a couple of cloves for this purpose, just a half a clove of raw garlic can be substituted.
Now I know you can, and if you want to be authentic you should, make pesto by hand but I never have and don’t think I ever will, I’ll leave that to Jamie Oliver. This is an easy peasy pesto and everything can be prepared, tossed into the food processor and scraped into a jar in about five minutes, ten if you’re dawdling. In fact I owe my Magimix to pesto as many moons ago when I was on a runner’s wage and had no appliances in my rented kitchen whatsoever except a kettle, I convinced myself that I needed to make homemade pesto (and houmous but that’s another story) like they were all doing in my food mags. I got quite obsessed with the idea and although I probably couldn’t afford my water bill that month I made sure I put aside money until that fancy pants Magimix was mine. These days, especially with cooking for Cole, I use it more than ever, I have a lot of affection for my precious processor and that first batch of pesto I ever made in it.
Pesto goes with everything. Fact. So, if you need a bit of inspiration here are some things I have used the pesto for this week:
- Slathered over pork chops and slammed into the oven for a no fuss dinner
- Blitzed into peas and kale as a nutrient packed lunch for Cole
- Whisked with extra olive oil then drizzled over cooked and cooled brown rice, olives and sundried tomatoes for a lovely rice salad at lunchtime
- Mashed into roasted butternut squash as a side for roast chicken
After a day or so the surface of the pesto will lose a little of its lustre, but you can always pour in a good slug of olive oil (on top of the quantity I’ve listed below) to seal the pesto in. However, this doesn’t bother me too much as it never sticks around too long in my fridge. I’ve found this quantity lasts about a week or two and has become a reliable friend to my shattered state and so an essential part of my weekend meal prep.
Three Herb Sun Pesto
Makes about 180g
40g sunflower seeds
40g parmesan, roughly chopped
50g basil, stalks removed
25g parsley, stalks removed
28g coriander, stalks removed
2 cloves garlic, roasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
60ml extra virgin olive oil
- Drop the sunflower seeds and parmesan into a food processor and whizz them up into crumbs.
- Add the herbs, garlic and lemon juice and turn the processor back on.
- Drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto has become a paste, turning off the processor and scraping down the sides if necessary to make sure all the ingredients are evenly combined.
- Scrape the pesto into a jar and store in the fridge until needed. It should last about two weeks.