Avocado and broccoli pesto

Pasta pesto makes me think of living in Hackney. Of taking the 55 bus home from work (because I couldn’t afford the tube). It reminds me of getting off the bus early at Diss St, picking up pesto, pasta & chilled coronas at the corner shop and going to see two beautiful friends. Their flat always felt so much more grown up & together. Their jobs were more important and exciting.

Their nights out were what urban stories are made from. Whenever things were rocky in my own life, I would pile into their flat and we would eat pesto pasta, drink beer & try to widen my film knowledge.

What I would give for corona & chats with those two right now but I would make the pesto, because this version is even more delicious & also because it contains avocado which would amuse them both.

This sauce is good. Really really good. It’s rich and creamy, but at the same time it isn’t heavy. By switching out the usual oil for avocado you get a sauce which is packed with good fats, loaded with vitamin C and most importantly it sticks perfectly to pasta (or courgetti for that matter). The broccoli base doesn’t mask the basil but adds an earthiness as well as packing in even more vegetables. There are no nuts in this but you could add in pine nuts or cashews if you wanted. There is also no salt, making it baby friendly, so salt your portion as needed. If your little one is just starting with pasta then use chopped vermicelli for spoon feeding or easy to pick up fusilli as finger food. If they aren’t on pasta yet then you could easily let them just eat a spoonful of the pesto or stir it in with pureed potato. I imagine it is delicious too on toast topped with perfectly ripe tomatoes, or mixed with hummus a top a baked potato. It will keep in the fridge, in a sealed jar, for five days so enjoy experimenting with it. For the record, I recognise that this is hardly a pesto as the ingredients haven’t been pounded together. It’s also hardly a Genovese sauce as it doesn’t contain hard cheese or pine nuts. But it is a creamy, basily sauce of deliciousness that takes minutes to create & will feed a family. Enjoy

Ingredients (makes 6 servings)
1 head broccoli

1 ripe avocado

1 large handful basil

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp pepper (optional)

Cut the broccoli into florets & boil until well cooked

Place into a food processor with all the other ingredients (avocado at the bottom)

Blend until you have a thick creamy sauce

Stir through cooked pasta


Vegan soda bread

The kitchen table, as it often the case, becomes the centre point of our entire lives. It is, at various times of the day, littered with snippets of our lives. Its is scattered with bowls and dishes, laid for dinner, or strewn with an array of cycling bits and bobs. The chairs are placed at odd angles to allow the baby space to crawl underneath it and play den. It is at the table that we prepare food, write recipes, share large mugs of brewed espresso, eat and talk.
Lately when lunch time is on the horizon and we haven’t made it to the bakery, I turn to this soda bread recipe. It is hearty and sustaining, spread with hummus and topped with rocket, dipped in fresh beetroot soup or spread with lemony avocado and sprinkled with salt. It is a quick and simple answer. The joy in making soda bread is that you simply measure, stir, knead and bake. Warm, freshly baked bread on the table in an hour. It is the easiest bread to add to your weekly repertoire and you will not regret it.

Soda bread has a tangy fresh taste to it and that comes from the natural yogurt and the homemade butter milk that I use. You can buy buttermilk, but it takes five minutes to make – you simply add the juice of half a lemon (1.5 tbsp) to 200ml of milk (dairy or almond) and wait five minutes.

I made this bread using wholegrain flour but you can also make it with wholegrain spelt flour too. It is also delicious if you add a few tablespoons of seeds to the mix. This is my tried and tested recipe but feel free to tweak away.

500g wholemeal/spelt flour
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml of live natural yogurt (you can replace this with an equal quantity of milk)
200ml of milk (dairy or almond)
1.5tbsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 190degrees
Pour 200ml of milk (dairy or soya) into a jug and add 1.5tbsp of lemon juice
Leave for 5 minutes until buttermilk is formed
Sift the flour and the bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl
Make a well in the centre and add in the buttermilk and the yoghurt (if using)
Stir well with a wooden spoon and bring the mixture together, forming a soft dough
Tip onto a floured surface knead for a minute or two
Place onto a floured baking tray and dust the top of the bread liberally with flour
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes
You know the bread is ready if the base of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it