When I close my eyes and dream of the ultimate comfort food, it's nothing fancy... it's the dinner that my mom cooked often when I was a kid: roast chicken with broccoli and white rice, with the chicken juices poured on top. I probably complained about it at the time (chicken again?!) but even now when I go to my parents' house and smell her chicken roasting in the oven, it's a comfort like no other. I'm hungrostalgic just thinking about it.
Beyond dishing up delicious food, though, cooking enabled my mom and I to spend time together. As a food writer and cookbook author, she was always in the kitchen and she encouraged my sister and I to get on board early and often. It was a thrill to be included. Today, I invite my kids into the kitchen as often as possible. And while they don't always take me up on my offers, I see that each of them is slowly developing an interest in flavors, ingredients and cooking. Most recently, my youngest (2 1/4 years old) joined me in the kitchen for the very first time and helped get her own dinner on the table!
She's at an age where she enjoys bold flavors and doesn't shy away from new foods or textures so pesto was a huge hit. She helped me to wash spinach and basil, peel a clove of garlic and pour olive oil. When I loaded the ingredients into my mini chopper, I let her press the buttons (and naturally, made sure to unplug immediately after we were done). This was a hit!
When the pesto was done (in about 2 minutes), I let her spoon it into the bowl of cooked macaroni and stir. Voila!
Fast, easy, delicious. My gal gobbled this up and reminded her older brother and sister at least four times during dinner "I made that, you know!" I used the leftovers in her lunchbox the next day:
Here's the very-flavorful, super easy recipe:
Spinach Pesto (Dairy Free)
1/2 bunch spinach, washed and cut
10 basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 cups of cooked macaroni (we used half whole wheat and half plain pasta)
Cook the pasta as directed on the box. As it cooks, add the spinach, basil, garlic, salt and olive oil to a cuisinart or chopper of your choice (an immersion blender can also work) and blend until smooth. Spoon into cooked pasta, stir and enjoy!