If you listen to most chefs, they got started in the kitchen at a very early age, and normally in old world kitchens. That got me to thinking that tried and true methods of cooking are a great way for a child to play an active role in the kitchen.
The mortar and pestle!! Wanting to keep it easy and simple the first time, we did pesto. I saw Michael Symon doing this on Iron Chef America and the results of the pesto were thicker and more fresh. Using the same ingredients as regular pesto, you simply replace the food processor or blender for the mortar and pestle. I found that working in small batches and tearing up the basil first made it a little easier for my child. Now you just let your child smash-up the pine nuts and basil, as you add the olive oil little by little. It’s done when you get a consistency that is appealing to you. Add a little garlic, salt and pepper, and finish with cheese.
Your child will be the main participant and you will get a great sauce for pesto or bread.
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese or favorite type of cheese such as Parmesan Reggiano. I prefer Pecorino because of the subtle but noticeable saltiness of the cheese.