Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Pesto (Basil, Arugula, Cilantro)

Tags: Class Ideas, All-Seasons, Outdoor, Basil, Indoor, Food, All-Grades, Fall, Anytime, Recipe, Kitchen

Time : 45 mins

Greeting and Review
  • Start in the same space if possible for every class (ex: The Circle, Pond, Back benches)
  • Ask the children if they tasted Basil (Arugula, Cilantro) and asked them in which dish they tasted basil. Talk about all the ways you can eat basil – Raw, Basil Lemonade, Tomato – Basil (Caprese salad), Pesto, Basil Ice-cream

Ex: Circle up, talk about everyone’s basil dish if most of them tasted basil

Main Lesson 
  • Students taste the wonderful basil(Arugula, cilantro) growing in the garden and learn the process of food preparation. They will be following the recipe by measuring the ingredients and going over step by step instructions.
Activity 1
  • Making Pesto 
  • Materials Needed: 
    • Food Processor/Blender
    • Measuring Cups
    • Basil (Arugula, Cilantro)
    • Olive Oil
    • Garlic
    • Nuts – Walnuts, Pinenuts, Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds (substitute if there are nut allergies)
    • Salt
    • Ground Pepper (Optional)
    • Crackers to taste
    • Pasta(if you prefer. Once the water is boiling pasta will cook in less than 15mins. The indoor kitchen has an induction cooktop which boils water really fast)
Activity 2 
  • Watering and Harvesting Greens (Basil, Arugula, Cilantro)
  • Materials Needed: 
    • Watering Cans for watering
    • Container for collecting and washing greens.
  • Children – (Allow 5-8 mins for any cleanup)  
  • Adults – (Allow 15mins for cleanup)

Ex: ring a bell for cleanup time and ask all the children to help.

  • 2-3 minutes to say goodbye

Ex: sing a goodbye song or give high fives to children on their way out.

It is always a good idea to break the kids into two or more groups. Let the kids participate in the cooking process. They can harvest the greens for the pesto, wash and trim the leaves. 

ACTIVITY 1: Making Pesto

Making Pesto with kids. If basil needs to be harvested. Adapted from



  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (arugula, cilantro or any mild green)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (If you want kids to grate ask them to take turns)
  • ⅓ cup nuts (pinenuts, walnuts, sunflower/pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Place basil leaves and pine nuts into a blender or food processor and pulse. (Kids can take turn pulsing the food processor. They love participating in the food preparation process)
  2. Add garlic and parmesan cheese and pulse more
  3. Add olive oil slowly and blend everything. It doesn’t have to be very smooth
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

ACTIVITY 2 : Watering and Harvesting Herbs for Pesto

  • Split the class into two groups while one adult helper is setting all the equipment for making pesto
  • Group One – Waters the garden
  • Group Two –  Harvests some of the herbs and washes them
  • Switch after 5-10mins
  • Put away all the watering cans and turn off all the faucets.


  1. Vote and count – YES (Like) or NO (Don’t like)
  2. Younger grades can draw the ingredients in their journals; Older grades can write down the recipe to take home
  3. Older grades can do a bar chart of voting results
  4. How can you double the recipe or make half of it. 


  • Set a timer (on your phone or on a watch the clock) 10 minutes or so before the end of class to gather the class and organize the space. 
  • Allot 5-8 mins for any cleanup – put away supplies, tools, clean dishes, wipe down tables etc.
  • Children – Put away watering cans, throw plates/utensils in compost bin, clean the table
  • Adults – Clean the dishes, measuring cups etc, Put away all the ingredients and supplies used
  • Allot 2-3 minutes to say goodbye. Try ending class in the same space each class,  if you can. Depart with an informal goodbye of your choice, a song, a poem, a high five as they walk out the door, etc.
Share This