I feel like my kids are turning a corner with food, as my friends promised me they would. Finn ate the celery or carrots in his lunchbox, five days in a row. At dinner on Tuesday he only dry-heaved twice while eating a green bean. On Thursday, Tate ate two fistfuls of broccoli when I looked past my fear of celebrity chefs to try Jessica Seinfeld’s admittedly delicious recipe for Beef with Broccoli.
I can hardly breathe for the excitement. But I’ve gotten excited at my kids’ minor dietary improvements in the past, scared them by going overboard (see, spinach-garbonzo bean fritters), and ended up worse off than before. This time, I’m pacing myself.
So, pesto. My friends Patrick and Mollyanne brought some pesto for the kids when we went on vacation. Patrick is a chef, so I’m constantly watching his kids eat stuff that makes me want to flip a table over, in rage and jealousy. But Tate, who I suspect would be an adventurous eater if he didn’t see his big brother reject foods on a daily basis, ate up Mollyanne’s pesto, quick as a wink. Finn, that wretch, refused to try it. But Finn’s recent forays into new foods had me hopeful. So yesterday, I made my own batch of spinach-basil pesto, heavy on the spinach.
Look at the color!! A bright and sexy jade green. Almost unidentifiable as a food object, in the best possible way.
Unfortunately, Finn’s not impressed with the color green, especially as it relates to food. When I brought the pasta to the table, he actually cried. I’m accustomed to it now, but still, there’s no crappier feeling than cooking something that reduces someone to tears. I made a five-pound turkey meatloaf once that had Tom crying for a week. I know it’s not right, but when it happens, my first impulse is to dump the food on the head of the person who is crying, or to smash their face into their plate.
In any event, this isn’t my first ride on the merry-go-round. At this point, the crying has to be pretty intense to faze me–like, there have to be hiccups. I ignored Finn’s tears and put three pieces of green pasta on his plate, and told him he was to try it. After his second bite, his grimace relaxed into a confused expression. And then, the clouds parted. “I like pesto, Mama.” He ate two bowls for dinner, and a cucumber from the salad (dry heave: 1). All told, he probably had a single serving of vegetables. But still, better than nothing.
That’s not even the clincher. When I tucked him into bed later that night, Finn requested pesto in his lunchbox the next day.
I may have cried a bit myself when he said that. Tears of motherlovin’ joy.
No Tears Spinach-Basil Pesto
1 cup packed spinach leaves (more or less won’t hurt)
1 cup packed basil leaves (ditto)
2 T pine nuts
1-2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1. Combine ingredients in a food processor. Whir until blended into a rough paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or refrigerate with plastic wrap touching the top of the pesto, to retain the color. Store up to three days.