Are You Nuts About Pesto?


I'm nuts about pesto. A roving crop of basil, along with a good assortment of nuts to choose from is a pesto party in the making; the possibilities are endless. And this year, my herb garden is bustling with my favorite aromatic herb. Basil varieties like boxwood, Italian, lettuce leaf, Christmas, and Thai are growing happily outside the kitchen windows and next to the heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers in the rooftop garden. 

I even tried my hand at making herb infused compound butters like Christmas (cinnamon) basil and maple syrup. When it comes to pesto, I'm not bias to blending this most beloved herb. I gave cilantro and even the arugula a whirl and the outcome was delicious; cilantro has a bright vibrant flavor, and arugula is spicy, smooth and peppery. I dabbled with almonds for the cilantro pesto (a recipe inspired by my friend Jennifer), walnuts for the arugula pesto, peanuts for the thai basil pesto, and pine nuts for the Italian and lettuce leaf basil pesto (cheese-free option to suffice my good friend Emilio who is on a Paleo diet).

Don't be afraid to experiment with whatever herb or green you may have. Making pesto is very easy, all you need is a handy food processor and your favorite herb. Give these four recipes a spin and I'm sure they will delight folks with the nuttiest of diets.

Pesto Recipes

Italian and Lettuce Basil Pesto

  • 4 cups of "common" basil, washed then dried
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden brown, then cooled.
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, to taste

    note: great for pasta, tomato sandwiches and an omelette


Thai Basil Pesto 

  • 4 cups of Thai basil, washed, then dried
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons of dry roasted peanuts
  • 1.5 tablespoon of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon of crushed pepper
  • pinch of salt and pepper

    note: great for grilled chicken and fish, shellfish, rice and soup.

Cilantro Pesto

  • 4 cups of cilantro, washed, then dried
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup of raw almonds, toasted until golden brown, then cooled
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper

    note: great for baked fish, tacos, tomato salad and sandwiches.

Arugula Pesto

  • 4 cups of arugula, washed, then dried
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of walnuts, toasted until fragrant, then cooled
  • 1 cup of pecorino Romano
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper, to taste

    note: great for pasta, tomato salad, sandwiches and bruschetta


For each pesto recipe above the process is the same.

In a food processor purée all ingredients until smooth. Pesto may be made ahead of time and refrigerated. It also freezes well for later use.

Charcoal Barbecue Chicken


Spring catapulted me into summer fairly quickly. Frankly, way too fast since winning the Edible Communities, Reader's Choice, Eddy's Award for Best Healthful Recipe for my Gluten Intelligence article for Edible East End. Time seems to spiral out of control, when in fact, it is me playing a game of twister to just catch-up.

I tend to take on more than I can chew, what can I say? There has been plenty of: nibbling, spiralizing, sipping homemade concoctions, rooftop and herb garden tending, spending time with family, and mingling with friends who know a thing or two about barbecuing over a coal fired grill.


For a Summer Solstice Potluck I purchased a Char-Griller Super Pro to kick-off warm weather grilling, just in time for the 4th of July. I was so excited about my new toy that I put the grill together myself —in the middle of a 90° sunny day— with a little bit of coaching from my husband Chris along the way. He gave me a "B" for trying my best; skimming over the user manual is not recommended for first-timers like me who learned the hard way what a cotter pin, hex nut and ratchet is used for. Besides a few flubs and bumps the grill was intact and ready-to-grill. 

Charcoal grilling is an art. I observed, tasted and was taught by my friend Steve Schwab who is an avid grill master. His wife Andra who is my childhood friend, stated how he "mans" the grill at home. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to learn the proper way of barbecuing. 

I think the technique of grilling is 75% the key to a phenomenal juicy and flavorful meat; a good marinade, carefully sourced meat and select natural wood chips, drives it home. This may sound trite, or like I'm overly sensationalizing, but I had an "aha" moment of mind and tastebuds saying, "whatever was made, do it again".

This is the best BBQ I have ever had.  

Are you grilling your chicken to a black pulp? If so, stop! Embrace a slow cooked indirect flame that will keep you barbecuing all year round.

Charcoal Barbecue Chicken


Note: You can freeze the back bones and necks for chicken stock. 


  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 limes; squeezed
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 cup; cilantro chopped
  • 1 teaspoon; dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon; worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon; ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup; chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon; spanish paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper

    Note: Here is a nifty herb and food pairing guide by Personal Creations

    For the Grill
  • 8 pounds of charcoal
  • 3 cups of apple wood

    Note: apple wood imparts a mild fruity flavor that is not overly strong
  • Bucket of water
  • Crumpled balls of paper
  • Kindling twigs
  • Matches


  1. Cut up the whole chicken in parts and place in a shallow dish.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
  3. Pour over chicken and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. The lime will begin to tenderize the chicken.
  4. Place crumpled balls of paper on bottom of the grill rack. Then place the kindling twigs on top.
  5. Arrange the charcoal around the edges of the kindling and paper. Light the paper and kindling to allow the edges of the charcoal to burn.
  6. Meanwhile, soak the wood chips in a bucket of water for 30 minutes. By that time the charcoal should be a grey ash color.

    Note: optimal temperature for grilling is 275° - 300°. My grill has a temperature gauge.
  7. Push all charcoal to one end of the grill and leave space where charcoal is to work the flame.
  8. Then place the chicken on oiled/sprayed flavor bars on the opposite side and skin side up; breast meat should be the furthest from the flame towards the back.
  9.  After 30 minutes, place 2 handfuls of wood chips. (do this every 20 minutes).  
  10. Close the lid and be sure to check frequently. Do not turn the meat and cook until golden brown.
  11. Chicken can take 1 - 1.5 hours to cook; if you have a temperature gauge it should reach 165°.

Gluten Intelligence has risen to the top as a finalist for the 2015 Eddy Awards


My gluten intelligence has been on the rise since the Low Summer 2014 issue of Edible East End. I have been nominated as a finalist for the 2015 Eddy Awards in the healthful recipe category. As a proud contributor to Edible East End's What's in Season Column, I have written: Spring Whole Milk RicottaGluten Intelligence (finalist for the 2015 Eddy Awards), Crabbing at Midnight, The Second Harvest and Long Island LatkesThe EDDYs recognize editorial excellence among 80 or so publishers of Edible Communities covering the local food landscape nationwide. A superstar panel of 57 judges; chefs, authors, editors, bloggers, farmers, gardeners, activists and other esteemed professionals in the food world, selected finalists, and now it's up to you to pick Reader's Choice winners. 


Laura takes us right into her kitchen during her quest to find the perfect marriage of food science and delectable dessert. The beautiful photographs almost make her trials seem effortless. In the end, she triumphed in her journey to make a visually appealing and equally delicious dessert. You'll hardly remember she had to leave anything out!

— Lindsay Malone

You be the judge! Vote for me and for each category daily through March 15th.