Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! pizza with pesto

Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! was a bit abbreviated this week. Anya has been down and out since Sunday with a nasty upper respiratory bug, and I have been coordinating some outdoor activities at the school while dealing with end-of-semester craziness, so Stuart and I have been tag teaming the childcare. I'm barely keeping it together here...thank goodness for Day One of the 30-day yoga challenge; I haven't had the courage to go on to Day Two yet! But I will. Soon.

While I didn't have the mojo for an entirely kid-assisted meal, I didn't want to let Daniel off the hook completely. When I asked what he wanted to make tonight, he predictably said, "Lasagna!" Of course I don't have the ingredients on hand and couldn't go to the store, so I said "How about pizza?" and he didn't object. 

One of my rules for TNFC is that we don't repeat any recipes, at least for a little while, to encourage trying new things. Yes, pizza was on the menu a few months ago at the beginning of this experiment, but as Anya pointed out in between coughing fits, Daniel was sick last time we made pizza (on the very first Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! as a matter of fact), so this technically isn't a repeat since he hasn't made it yet.

Anyway, this time was different because we started with pesto. I love pesto. LOVE. IT.  I could just eat it by the spoonful, and often do. There is no such thing as too much basil, if you ask me, and every year I grow what feels like bushels of it, though in reality it's usually about a dozen plants. Along with traditional basil pesto, I like making it out of other ingredients. I went a little nuts buying greens (they all looked so delicious!) at the farmers'  market last weekend, and by today already some of them were looking a little droopy in the fridge, so today's batch featured a mix of locally grown arugula and spinach. 

Remember how I said gadgets make cooking with kids more fun? Well. Daniel likes to use the salad spinner. Really likes it. 

In fact, after his first bunch of greens were spun, he unthinkingly dumped the lot in the food processor along with all the water he'd just spun out, so he had to redo it and didn't mind a bit.

Next he chopped some garlic using that nice new knife from Opa.

I added salt, toasted sunflower seeds and melted butter. Typically, pesto calls for olive oil and pine nuts, but we're out of olive oil and I don't much like pine nuts and usually go with walnuts or sunflower seeds. Occasionally almonds are good, depending on the greens you use. I think sunflower seeds go particularly well with arugula.

The pesto passed the taste test!

You know, I should have made Daniel help make and spread the dough and shred the cheese and put on the toppings and the whole bit, but I didn't. It's just one of those weeks. So I sent him away to binge on screen time with little sis while I finished up. The finished pizzas had a mishmash of toppings: pesto, goat cheese, pepperoni, tomato sauce, a blend of cheeses I could find in the fridge without going to the corner store. Not every pizza had everything, but every little pizza was pretty tasty.

Anya must be feeling better because she ate quite a bit.

Pesto with fresh farmers market greens (my own recipe):
I have made this with all arugula before; this is the first time I tried mixing in spinach, and the result is a little milder than when you use all arugula. I happen to love the sharp flavor of arugula, but if you don't or are concerned the people you're feeding won't like it, you can use part spinach.
  • 4-6 cups blend of fresh arugula and spinach, washed and spun dry; I used about half and half but you can proportion how you like, or according to what is in your garden or left in your fridge. You could use all arugula or all spinach if you like, though all spinach would have an exceptionally mild flavor, I would think.
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds, unsalted
  • 3/4 tsp. salt (less if your sunflower seeds are salted)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil
Blend all ingredients except the butter (or oil) in the food processor. While the processor is running, drizzle the fat in through the top and process until you have a smooth paste. Taste for salt. That's it! Easy peasy.


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