This goodness-packed nut free and dairy free pesto is a recipe to please the whole family! Spinach, apricots, and sunflower seeds provide a tasty and allergy friendly twist on traditional pesto ingredients.
Nut-free and dairy-free pesto; ingredients and nutrition
Spinach replaces the traditional basil in this pesto recipe. The kids have got no interest whatsoever in eating Spinach in it’s natural form, so I like finding different ways to include it into their diet; it is packed with goodness.
Dried apricots add sweetness and flavour. These are a good source of fibre and protective plant compounds, which help protect the immune system.
To make this pesto nut free, I’ve used sunflower seeds. They add protein and texture. Olive oil is a key ingredient in many pesto recipes, and this one is no exception. Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats, which are so important to include in children’s diets to support their growth. Finally, lemon juice adds flavour.
This spinach and apricot pesto is nut free and dairy free. It is also soya free & gluten free. Plus, depending on what you serve it with, it is vegan friendly!
The only top-14 allergen to be aware of in this recipe is sulphites. Many dried apricots contain these to help retain colour. Choose organic dried apricots for a sulphite free option.
How to serve spinach and apricot pesto
We most often use this pesto stirred through pasta, such as penne pasta or spaghetti. When stirring it through pasta you can add some extra olive oil and lemon juice to taste. You might like to add some salt for adults and older kids.
If you, like me, you find yourself serving up a lot of pasta and would like to mix it up, then remember that there are a great range of buckwheat, brown rice, lentil and corn based gluten free pastas now available. My eldest used to have a wheat allergy, so we are used to using these. Many are very tasty (just be careful not to over cook as they go mushy v quickly!). Serving up a range of these is an easy way to get some variation into your family’s diet.
Another way to serve this pesto is to use it as a puff pastry pinwheel filling. These make a great light lunch and are also perfect as a nut free packed lunch filler.
Is pesto suitable for baby led weaning?
Yes, pesto stirred through pasta and used as a pinwheel filling both work well as finger food. And unlike shop bought pesto, this homemade recipe does not contain any salt, which makes it well suited to younger babies. When making the pesto just be sure to blitz it up very smooth, so there are no big chunks of sunflower seeds. This avoids any potential choking risk.
Spinach and apricot dairy & nut free pesto; some top tips!
- Start with a small amount if, like many children, your little one is suspicious of green foods. Stir through a teaspoon of pesto to begin with, and gradually increase the amount as they get used to it. If your child is a vegan cheese fan, you can top with grated cheese to make it more familiar.
- For adults you’ll probably like to add some salt. You can also add some extra lemon juice and olive oil, to taste.
- The pesto can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for a couple of days in the fridge, and can also be frozen – I tend to freeze pesto in a silicon ice cube tray, so it’s easy to get a small amount out as needed.
- If you’ve stored your pesto in the fridge it may be a bit thick. Stir it through your pasta in the warm pan the pasta was cooked in; it will loosen up as it warms through.
Spinach and apricot pesto (nut free | dairy free)
- 7 soft dried apricots
- 2 handfuls fresh spinach
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 50 g sunflower seeds
- Cut the dried apricots into small pieces, and add them to a mixing bowl.
- Then, add all the other ingredients to the bowl.
- Use a stick blender to blitz the mixture until smooth, with no sunflower seed chunks remaining.
- To serve, stir a spoonful through freshly cooked pasta (gluten free if required) in the warm pan, and then add more pesto as required. You can also add a little more olive oil and lemon juice, to taste.
- Leftover pesto can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days in the fridge, and can also be frozen – I tend to freeze pesto in a silicon ice cube tray, so it's easy to get a small amount out as needed.
- If you or your child has an allergy, always double check that the recipe and all of the components are suitable. This includes checking ‘may contain’ statements on each ingredient and making your own assessment of risk based on personal circumstances.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you may be interested in:
- Ten recipes containing vegetables for picky eaters
- Quick and easy vegan avocado pasta
- Vegetable packed multi-use sauce
- Dairy free mac and cheese, with sneaky butternut squash!
Subscribe and get your FREE 4 week meal plan!
A month of family dinner ideas, all free from dairy, soy, egg & gluten x