Friday, July 8, 2011

Grow It & They Will Eat!

This year, Seneca from WeFarm America built an amazing garden for us behind The Kids' Table. I took my struggling picky eater Aleks out back to harvest the rampantly growing kale. After snipping off a few leaves, Aleks asked if kale is edible. Once he got the thumbs-up, he took small bites, which progressively got bigger and bigger. He even nibbled on the stem! Aleks decided that he likes raw kale - and that it tastes a bit like broccoli.

Most kid
s (Aleks included) would not munch on raw kale if you put it on their plate at lunch time. But seeing it growing out of the dirt and getting to snip those leaves off somehow turned kale into an exciting adventure. You can grow things at home in window boxes, small pots, old yogurt cups or even shoe boxes. And if you're thinking bigger scale, call Seneca to get you started -

With the kale we brought home, we decided to try our hand at Kale Pesto. It was quite delicious! The basic recipe follows, but we made some substitutions the second time around based on what we had on hand and it turned out equally great. In addition to kale, we threw in some rainbow chard and broccoli leaves. Spinach and beet greens would make great additions too! We had garlic scapes on hand, so we used two of those instead of garlic cloves. We substituted ground chia seeds for the ground flaxseed as well. My older son, Jacob, commented that I always have to change something.... And I told him it's good to be able to roll with the punches and work with what you got!

3 1/2 oz t
orn kale leaves
1/2 oz basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 lemon wedges
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil, divided

Put kale, basil, garlic, cheese, sunflower seeds and ground flaxseed in the bowl of your food processor. Squeeze juice from lemon
wedges over the mixture. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 cup olive oil. Pulse food processor until mixture is finely chopped. Scrape sides if necessary. With the food processor on, add remaining 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary. Toss with cooked pasta (along with a little reserved pasta water to help the pesto coat) and pass around a little extra grated cheese. This also works great as a sandwich spread.

Makes about 1 cup. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze in ice cube trays for longer storage.

What Aleks did:
  • Washed, stemmed and tore greens and basil
  • Chopped (with close supervision!) garlic scapes
  • Grated cheese (also with me very close by)
  • Squeezed lemon wedges
  • Measured out seeds, salt and olive oil
  • Pulsed food processor

Aleks munched on raw greens and garlic scapes while he worked. He tasted the pesto to help adjust seasoning. He opted to eat his pasta plain. But Jacob and I woofed it down!

Happy growing, cooking and eating!


You learn something new everyday – or so the saying goes. Well, I’ve now been teaching cooking classes at The Kids’ Table for over 4 years and feeding my own children for over 11. It’s been quite the learning experience, and still is! The knowledge I’ve amassed ranges from the useful, to the humorous, to the mundane, to the borderline earth-shattering. But knowledge is of limited use unless it can be exchanged and expanded upon. If you were to come to one of our cooking classes, or just wander into The Kids’ Table on a neighborhood jaunt, you’d likely get an earful about our latest adventures and culinary discoveries. And we’d get to hear about your cooking and dining experiences – trials and triumphs alike. While blogging is hardly a substitute for face-to-face interaction, I’m willing to embrace it as the next best thing (a huge leap for the technologically-challenged, like myself).

Through this blog, I hope to create a forum for sharing my thoughts on anything related to food, kids and health – from tips and tricks for enticing picky eaters, to healthy school lunch ideas, to time saving tactics in the kitchen, to tasty family-friendly recipes, to exploring the mysterious world of superfoods. I invite you to follow along, and encourage you to join in the conversation!

Happy cooking,