One year when Solomon was in pre-school, I think I was the teacher’s pet. I loved Solomon’s teachers that year. Ellen and Anavela were so patient and kind, and they were so skilled at helping Solomon detach from me a bit and engage with kids his own age.

At the end of the school year I wanted to give them a really special teachers’ gifts to show them how much I appreciated them, so I made them my family’s favorite pasta dish, Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach and Capers, and baked fresh bread to go with it. They were truly touched, and I loved knowing that they would get the night off of cooking for their own families.

My family loves this combination of ingredients so much that we could eat it every week. There are some really decent pesto sauces sold in supermarkets, but if you have a bumper crop of basil and want to make your own, just combine two cups (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 Tbsp. pine nuts, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese in a blender or food processor and blend until coarsely chopped.  You can use extra pesto sauce as a spread for crackers, toss it with steamed green beans, or freeze it for a future use.

Looking for other ideas for end-of-the-year teachers’ gifts?

We’ve also made our kids’ teachers homemade herb planters like these, or had the kids write letters thanking their teachers and included a photograph.

Here are some great homemade gift wrapping ideas from my Kitchen Explorers co-contributor, Alice Currah: http://www.pbs.org/parents/kitchenexplorers/2011/12/15/diy-edible-gift-ideas-with-cute-packaging/.

What is your favorite homemade gift to give your children’s teachers?

Recipe: Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach and Capers

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 15 min(s)
  • Total Time: 25 min(s)
  • Servings: 8, about 1 1/2 cups  each

A delicious homemade gift for your child's teacher.

Ingredients

    • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic (about 1 clove)
    • 1/2 cup refrigerated pesto sauce (or use recipe above for fresh pesto)
    • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp. capers, drained
    • 16 oz. penne noodles
    • 12-18 oz. baby spinach
    • ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
    • 1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
    • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

    • Boil the water for the pasta in a large stockpot. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the garlic, pesto, oil and capers.
    • Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook them until they are about 1 minute short of being done. Add the spinach to the boiling water with the pasta and cook it for about 1 minute. Drain the pasta and spinach briefly and toss it with the ingredients in the large bowl. Season it with salt and pepper and top it with the Parmesan cheese. Serve it with crushed red pepper flakes at the table.

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