Spinach and cashew pesto

Green things Bert approves of: dinosaurs, traffic lights, broccoli and now this. Green things Bert does not approve of – salad; ‘you eat leaves?! That’s kind of crazy.’

I thought he might help me make this in the ‘milkshake maker’, but no, instead he sent his dad about a hundred texts of emojis that he toils and sweats and weeps over like he’s writing a novel.

Makes a couple of small jars (you may get one in the post, Mum)

75g spinach

75g cashews

35g grated parmesan (an earlier edit read garlic – I apologise to anyone who cooked this and still has garlic breath)

2 cloves garlic

2 dessert spoons chopped basil

2 dessert spoons chopped mint

Zest, grated, and juice of a lemon

190ml olive oil

2 teaspoons sea salt (1/2 teaspoon table salt)

Blend the lot and keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.


Chicken herb salad

chick ray

So there’s not a toddler alive who doesn’t treat green leaves and herbs with the gravest suspicion, but I think of it as aversion therapy – if we put it on the table and treat it as normal, one day he might not see it as poison. Bert had the chicken plus some cucumber sticks. We all had bread and butter.

This is Bert tucking Ray up with a blanket, knitted monkey and dummy. So thoughtful!

Serves 2.5

2 chicken breasts

Drizzle of olive oil

Juice of half an orange

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Pinch of saffron

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Bag of rocket

Small bunch of coriander, chopped

Small bunch of basil, leaves chopped

Small bunch of mint, leaves chopped

Brown the chicken in a very hot, oiled pan for 2 minutes on each side then put the (oven proof) pan in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 180 (grid rack on the bottom of the Aga roasting oven). It takes 10 minutes in our Aga but it’s always hotter than it should be.

Meanwhile, put the orange juice, honey, vinegar and saffron in a small pan and simmer until it gets syrupy – about 5-10 minutes. You can see it start to bubble fiercely like toffee, rather than gently like liquid. Take it off the heat and drop in the crushed garlic. When the chicken’s done, cut it into bite sized pieces and tip it into the pan, coating it in the syrupy sauce. At this point I took a few pieces out for Bert.

Then tip all the rest of the chicken onto a bed of rocket and chopped herbs, and toss.

We finished with chocolate buttons, the After Eights of the toddler world.



Chicken and peas and rice and herbs


A mucked about with Leon recipe.

Served 3.5

1 dessert spoon butter

1 onion chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

400g diced chicken (breast or thigh)

1.5 mugs brown basmati rice

1 low salt stock cube

3 mugs of water

A couple of handfuls of peas or broad beans

A handful each of basil leaves and mint leaves, chopped

Large handful of grated parmesan – be generous with the cheese and the herbs

Salt to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter, add the chicken and brown. Stir the rice through, coating it in buttery garlicy onion. Then crumble in the stock cube, add the water and bring to the boil, putting on a lid and cooking it on a very low heat till the water’s absorbed. (I put it in the bottom of the Aga simmering oven for 45 minutes.)

Meanwhile, your toddler can sprint in circles like a caged monkey and walk backwards with a smug look on his face.

Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the peas or beans. When it’s done, stir through the cheese and herbs, season a bit more if neccessary, and serve.

But where’s my brilliant eater gone? Unless I hide every morsel in the centre of a raspberry, I fear Bert will never eat a rounded meal again.