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Mel’s Broccoli and Basil Pea Pasta Sauce

Melissa Hemsley

In season now

Serves: 6

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 20 mins


1 small/medium head of broccoli (use the stalks too)

3 big handfuls of frozen peas

30g fresh basil (keep the stems too)

handful of cashew nuts or seeds or pinenuts

1 small garlic clove

handful of grated parmesan or cheddar, plus extra to serve

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

squeeze of lemon juice

sea salt & pepper, to taste

Enough pasta to feed 6

Veg Portions / Serving: 1


Recipe by Melissa Hemsley.

Take your pasta to the next level and squeeze in a little extra veg with this easy broccoli & basil pea pasta sauce.


Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil.  Roughly chop the broccoli and slice the stalks then add the broccoli florets and stalks to the boiling water for 3 minutes along with the garlic clove. After 3 minutes, add the peas for a further minute to defrost.

Meanwhile tip the pasta into a medium pan of boiling salted water and get that cooking (check label instructions for the suggested cooking times as varies for pasta type and size and shape).

Then back to the first pan, drain the veg and then tip the veg into the blender and add the rest of the ingredients; the olive oil, lemon juice, nuts/seeds, fresh basil (roughly tear), grated cheese and salt and pepper.

Put the lid on the blender and then blend until smooth and creamy. Then taste the pesto sauce for seasoning adjusting with more salt and pepper or add a little water if it’s too thick.

Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and then add the pesto to the pan, add enough to coat, you can keep adding more sauce or let everyone help themselves to more.  Garnish with extra basil leaves if you like or grated cheese.

Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

Get the kids to carefully add veg to the pan, add ingredients to the blender, and to blitz up the pasta sauce. Let them stir the sauce through the cooked pasta, serve up and sprinkle with extra cheese.



While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.



Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.



The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.

Melissa Hemsley

Chef and best selling author, lover of leftovers and seasonal vegetables and regular volunteer with food waste charities, kids community cooking and ambassador of Fairtrade farmers.

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