Stilton, hazelnut and rocket pesto on wholewheat spaghetti

I prepared myself for wailing rejection when serving this to the kids tonight. It’s a pretty punchy number, for sure, when spooned straight into the gob. And yet… when this pesto is coated sparingly on strands of nutty wholewheat pasta, with a little cream and pasta water in the mix too to lighten, it goes all mellow and is really rather easy going. I’m always wary when giving them Stilton flavoured food. But, like my Mushroom and kale lasagne, which also has a touch of Stilton in, (in small doses) they blinking love a bit of the old stinky blue cheese! Well, they loved this pasta anyway, wolfed down a big bowl each.

I’m constantly surprised by what they do – and don’t – like. So called kid friendly recipes (that I’ve styled and shot recently for work) haven’t been a hit with them, and yet this is. Kids are so damn unpredictable. Still, I’m not complaining on this occasion.

You can make the no-cooking-required pesto as the pasta is cooking, which makes it a super speedy supper. It’s also genius way to get children (and grown ups) to eat some greens. There’s no way my offspring would eat rocket normally, in its raw state, not a chance. But in a pesto? Yeah, baby!

Pestos are really fun to mess around with (I think so anyway, don’t judge). You can combine many different hard cheese/nuts/leaf combo and it should work – choose wisely though, which I know you will. For example, you might replace the Stilton with pecorino, the hazelnuts with almonds, the rocket with watercress. Hey, go crazy.

Serves: 3 adults (or 2 adults and 2 children)
Prep time: 10 minutes 
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes (cooking pasta and making pesto simultaneously)

Ingredients: 
For the pesto: 
90g Stilton, rind taken off and crumbled
90g hazelnuts
75g rocket
8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

300g wholewheat spaghetti

Extra: 
3 tablespoons of double cream
Pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Fill the biggest pan you own with water and bring to boil, with a little salt in there too. 
  2. When boiling, add pasta. Boil for a wee bit less than packet instructions say for al dente. 
  3. Whilst that’s cooking, using preferably a small processor (great investment for family cooking – amazing for houmous, pesto etc) or if using a large processor you may have to make twice as much, whizz the ingredients. 
  4. Reserve half a mugful of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. 
  5. Add about half the pesto to the pasta. Stir in a little cream too, and a splash of pasta water. Toss really well. Taste and season. Toss once more. 
  6. Serve with a little extra virgin and a sprinkling of salt. Watch on in amazement as kids wolf it down. 
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