spaghetti with tomato and walnut pesto


I made this dish for a friend who came over for brunch one Saturday. I greeted her, and a guy I’d hired off Task Rabbit to assemble a file cabinet (naturally they arrived at the same time), with a deafening smoke alarm from the tomatoes I’d been roasting in the oven. The three of us held up towels and magazines, trying to air out my apartment from all the smoke that had accumulated, and we ended up laughing because my cat nearly went airborne trying to flee the alarm. Good times. 

I just finished Heather Havrilesky’s excellent column collection, How to Be a Person in the World (buy it, read it, effective yesterday), and one of the Ask Polly columns resonated so deeply with me–a woman moved to a new city and struggled to make new friends. While I prefer to spend much of my time alone (I actually take solace in the quiet of my own company), I do miss the ease of my east coast friendships. The feeling that I could hop on a subway and see a friend in the middle of the day. Since I’m a consultant much of my time is spent at home, in seclusion, and while I have a set of good friends, I wouldn’t mind a slow and deliberate expansion of my circle. A loosening of a belt, if you will. And I loved how Heather talked about opening your heart in the sense that you’d be surprised how the people who remain and thrive are those whom you least suspect. It’s okay to connect with people who are not your vision of an ideal friend because we need people, and companionship, in any form, is a comfort. 

So I’m joining a few groups, took up membership at a really cool gym where the members actually socialize (who knew?) and talk to one another, and I can’t wait to have new friends over for dinner. 

DIRECTIONS: Recipe from Bon Appetit
⅔ cup walnuts
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped (I nixed this because fish)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces spaghetti (I used gluten-free fettucini)
½ cup (packed) basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
Heat broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and have released some of their liquid, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.

Pulse anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ½ oz. Parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and half of tomatoes, then, with motor running, stream in ⅓ cup oil; process just until combined. Season with salt. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in black pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer pasta to bowl with pesto and add a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Toss, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil and remaining tomatoes.

Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan and black pepper and drizzle with oil.


recipe: pasta with chicken + chive/parsley pesto

gluten-free pasta with chicken and chive/parsley pesto

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe around these parts. In all candor, keeping up a food blog is pretty expensive and my meals as of late have been about what can be repurposed or stretched and what I can afford. I love this dish because it gives me four filling meals (especially with the lentil pasta), there’s an ocean of green on the plate and it’s delicious. Luckily, I live by a farmer’s market where the produce is inexpensive (the herbs were $1.50 each for a huge bunch!) and fresh.

2 cups parsley, chopped
1 cup chives, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb chicken breasts chopped into 1/2 inch cubes/strips
1 lb gluten-free pasta (or you can use this delicious lentil pasta)
Optional: 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

In a blender (or food processor), blitz the first seven ingredients until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Cook the pasta per the directions on your box, removing a minute early so the noodles are al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water–you’ll need this to make the sauce super creamy.

In a large non-stick skillet, add 1/2-1 tbsp olive oil, the chicken, salt, and pepper and saute until brown, 5-6 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the skillet along with the pesto. Mix until the chicken and noodles are complete combined. Add the reserved pasta water. Finish off with cheese, if that’s your bag. Enjoy!

roasted tomato pesto with bean pasta + sausage

roasted tomato pesto with bean pasta + sausage

When I was told that I’d have to go without gluten for nearly a year I was sure the rapture was coming. I would sit in my doctor’s office while he pored over my bloodwork, shocked about my insulin spikes. What are you eating? he wondered aloud. How did you insulin levels jump this high so fast? At the same time my dentist studied my x-ray, studied me, and asked how I’d developed seven cavities in one year. I was 38 years old, drinking kale smoothies like it was my job and I was on the road to diabetes and several root canals.

DIABETES? You’ve got to be kidding me.

We have an image of sickness. A series of photographs and warnings that leave their indelible mark. I’m a relatively educated woman but I thought (erroneously) that diabetes was reserved solely for the obese, those who consumed processed foods. Let go of this image. Immediately. Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. Genetics also play a role, and seemingly “healthy” people can suffer from the illness. And while I was blitzing up smoothies and shopping local and organic, I couldn’t ignore the pasta, bagels and paninis I ate every. single. day. I couldn’t ignore that sugar and carbs subsumed the measly amount of vegetables, whole grains and legumes I consumed in comparison.

Last year I was on the road to ruin and I had to change my diet. FAST. But holy shit, how was I going to live without pasta.

When I first saw my nutritionist, I completed an exhaustive seven-page questionnaire and logged a food diary. One of the questions invited me to list foods I couldn’t imagine living without. I wrote: bread and pasta. These were my non-negotiables. Shoot me up with broccoli rabe and beets all you like–you’d have to pry a box of pasta off my dead body before I’d let go.

That was kind of a problem.

Recently I read Sarah Hepola’s Blackout. There’s a scene where she recounts lost time to her therapist. Hepola says, Everyone has blackouts, to which her therapist, bristled, replies, No, they don’t. I nodded along to this because I assumed blackouts were par for the adult course. One drank until they saw black. They drank until their mind was literally no longer able to create memories–the alcohol set up shop and was ready to do serious business.

I say this because I have a predilection for liking something to its unhealthy excess. I’m used to creating my own ruin because at least I thought I could control every aspect of it simply because the form of addiction is familiar. We cleave to that which is known–we’re frightened otherwise. And although I joke about chickpea fatwas and avocado addictions, there isn’t a day that goes by that I have to be mindful, aware, of my behavior. Am I ordering that pizza because I want to cope with an impossible client? Do I sit in front of my laptop and eat mindlessly because although I love Los Angeles, although I don’t regret–even for a moment–moving here, I miss my friends so dearly. I miss Amber. I miss Persia. I miss Mauve Cat Alex and Alex Alex (I’ve a lot of friends named Alex).

Food is for fuel not for recompense. Food is for subsisting not for cowering, shielding and hiding.

It took me a year but I now live a life where I’m not tethered to a box of macaroni and a loaf of bread. My insulin levels are normal, and after an expensive summer of painful dental work, I’m healthy, balanced.


Portioning my food into storage bins helps. Patroning farmer’s markets and connecting with the people who grow + cultivate the food I eat helps. California has brought me the gift of incredible produce. Never have I tasted peaches so ripe, with fruit so blistering claret. Never have I seen the diversity in pesto and tomatoes. Yesterday, before I met a friend for lunch, I trolled my local market and picked up bags of tomatoes, basil, peaches, cheese, figs, and local pork.

When I was eating gluten-free (I still sort of do), I hated the pastas. While it’s true that gluten-free fare has come a long way, corn, soy and potato are just as nutrient empty and unfulfilling as it’s white flour counterparts. Some brands didn’t keep well in the fridge, others were gummy and quinoa, for some reason, makes me extremely ill when I eat it.

I discovered Explore Asian’s bean pastas on a lark. The woman in front of me in checkout piled a few bags on the conveyer belt and I asked her if the pastas were any good. She nodded, said some were better than others, and she liked that they had a hefty amount of protein and held up well for leftovers. I’ve tried nearly all of them and they’re pretty exceptional. I’ve made them with avocado basil pesto, with chicken and all sorts of vegetables, and while the flavor takes a little getting used to (think of it as when you switched from Danon yogurt to Greek), these pastas are a mainstay in my pantry.

So after baking a peach crumble (i.e. this morning’s breakfast), I made this exceptional pasta dish. Not only did I need less of it (since the protein pretty much filled me up making room for PIE), I loved the flavors of the roasted tomato and bean with the salty sausage. AMAZING.


For the pesto
1 cup of tomatoes quartered. You can use any tomatoes, but I used 3-4 small of these farmer’s market tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil, salt pepper (all are for roasting)
2 cups of basil, packed
2 fat cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp pecorino romano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil (dial this up or down depending on how smooth you like your pesto)
Salt/pepper to taste

For the sausage pasta
1 package of your favorite bean pasta (I used this one), but you can just use a pound of your favorite pasta
1/2 pound of Italian or breakfast sausage out of their casings and roughly chopped
1 tbsp of olive oil for frying the sausage

Start with the tomatoes. In a 400F oven, roast the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt + pepper for 35-40 minutes until charred. Set the tomatoes aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large skillet, fry up the sausage in olive oil until brown (7-10 minutes). While the sausage is cooking, add the pasta to the now boiling water and cook until al dente (per your package instructions). While both are cooking, add the tomatoes (and their juices), basil, garlic, cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper to a blender and blitz until smooth.

Drain the pasta (leaving 1/2 cup of pasta water aside), and add the pasta to the pan with the sausage. Toss to combine. Add the pesto, toss to combine, and let cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh basil and pecorino cheese. Enjoy!

bacon sandwich with almond, goat cheese, and parsley pesto

What better way to kick off the weekend than with a little bacon, copious amounts of carbs and some pesto? Chalk this up to a freelancer’s life, but I love the fact that my days are such that I get to come home and indulge in a delicious lunch. This weekend, I’m packing for Dublin, cleaning {cleaning, cleaning} and testing out recipes from Ms. Dahl’s stunning cookbook.

Bye the bye, if you have any recommendations for eats in Dublin, please leave them in the comments!

INGREDIENTS: Pesto recipe courtesy of Sophie Dahl’s Very Fond of Food
For the pesto
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper
2 large handfuls of fresh parsley
½ cup /50g blanched almonds
1 cup/200g soft goat cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
A squeeze of lemon juice or some lemon zest

1 ciabatta roll {warmed slightly in the oven}
3 strips of applewood smoked bacon

In a food processor (or Vitamix), blitz the pesto ingredients. Season, giving the mixture a squeeze of lemon juice or a grating of lemon zest if you feel like it. This recipe yields quite a bit of pesto, so store the remainder in an airtight container {Sophie’s recipe had you adding this to a pound of delicious penne pasta as a dinner course}.

In a large frying pan, space apart three strips of paper and cook for two minutes on each side. When done, generously slather the cheesy pesto onto both sides of the warmed ciabatta roll. Fold the strips of bacon, and if you’ve got a handful of arugula or spinach, feel free to toss that into the lot.



quick eats: parsley + chive pesto pasta with grilled chicken

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DIRECTIONS: Blitz the pesto ingredients: parsley, chives, garlic, nuts, cheese + olive oil to a smooth paste. Set aside in a large bowl | In a large skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the seasoned chicken chunks, and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides {3-5 minutes} | While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the fresh pasta and cook for under a minute. Drain, and add pasta to the pesto and toss to combine. Add pasta water if the mixture is too thick | Add the chicken and toss to combine | Serve with freshly-grated pecorino romano

easy eats: arugula pesto pasta

2 cups arugula, packed | 1 cup basil, packed | 1/2 cup walnuts | 2 garlic cloves, chopped | 1/4 pecorino romano cheese | 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil | 1/2 tsp cracked pepper | 1/2 tsp Maldon salt | 1 lb of pasta | 1/2 cup reserve pasta water | blitz ingredients, add to al dente pasta, add pasta water, if needed. Sprinkle cheese + cracked pepper on top

the road to delicious: parsley + chive pesto

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Those who know me well know of my passion for pesto. I’ve blitzed every green you could potentially imagine, and only once did I feel as if I created an enormous failure (I don’t care what the cookbooks or slick bloggers say, sage pesto is catastrophic unless you blend it heavily with a lighter leaf like basil, spinach of flat-leaf kale to cut the soapiness). However, when I opened up Bon Appetit‘s summer issue, I couldn’t resist the allure of the two greens I haven’t conquered: parsley + chives.

On my way home from the market, I wondered why beef got relegated to the red sauce lot — rarely do I ever see a sirloin paired with the verdant sauce, and I never understood why. Are we tied to silly food rules that dictate white wine must always pair with fish and rosemary must always complement lamb? So I ran back to the market, scored some beef, and set out for a dish that would be insanely delicious.

Suffice it to say, I’m addicted to the unexpected juxtaposition of the sharp chives with the almost sweet and delicate parsley. The pesto was savorier than those I normally make, and it stood up well against the grilled beef, lending a depth of flavor that I have yet to experience. If I can implore you to do one thing this summer, it’s this: eat beef with pesto. You won’t regret it.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, with slight modifications
1 pound fresh fettucini or linguine pasta
1/2 cup unsalted, roasted almonds
4 cups (packed) fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper + sea salt, to taste
1 lb ground sirloin + 2 tsp of olive oil for the pan


In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, beef and salt + pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes.

While the beef is cooking, blitz the pesto ingredients (almonds, parsley, chives, olive oil and cheese) in a food processor (or you can opt for the mortar + pestle method) until smooth + creamy. I’ll add the salt/pepper to taste after all the ingredients have been incorporated.

Once the beef is done, set aside. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Toss pasta and pesto in a large bowl, adding pasta cooking liquid by 1/4-cupfuls until saucy. Add in the beef. Season with salt and pepper.

rosemary pesto pasta: delicious!

Believe me when I say that I will eat pesto until I collapse. You’ll have to pry a basil leaf out of my mouth before I end this life-long affair. And as a result of my month-long respite from dairy and refined flours and sugars, I cultivated a taste for herbs that was previously dormant. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with pesto permutations, and I quite love this version, which combines the sweetness (almost licorice) taste of purple basil leaves, and the rosemary’s aromatic qualities. Granted, I was worried that rosemary would overpower the tender leaves (as this herb is wont to do), but the pesto was full-on with flavor. I’ve paired this with pasta, roasted potatoes, and today it’s topping my quinoa strat.

2 cups of purple basil leaves, packed
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp toasted walnuts
Salt/pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Blitz + serve!


kamut pasta with herbed sausage + purple basil walnut pesto (dairy free!)

Years ago I had a great love. And after a time he became a great loss. But I remember a meal I had made for him — pasta with spicy sausage and tomato cream sauce — and how we argued over fundamental differences between men and women. When it came to attraction, men reacted to visuals and women connected with emotion. For hours we bickered over this, and I found it ridiculous that he never considered the fact that women could be seduced by an image of someone or something. When we parted ways I realized that the fundamental difference between he and I was the fact that I was trying to find myself while he was set on fleeing himself.

Fast forward to the here and now, and not only have I found myself, I’ve discovered that I react to visuals — especially when it comes to food. All sense of rationality dissipates when faced with buckets of acorn squash and vine-ripe tomatoes. And so it goes as I roved the Union Square Market and came face-to-face with a heap of PURPLE BASIL.

Be still a woman’s heart. The color of ripe aubergines, the leaves are fiercely nocturnal and have a hint of licorice flavor. Notice how the pesto dyes the pasta a beautiful hue. The sweet pesto paired with the bite of the sausage and nutty kamut is absolute and utter perfection. And can we talk about the power of the protein-packed kamut, the lovely fat from the sizzling sausage? I nearly DIED eating a bowl of this yummy pasta.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
1 cup packed fresh purple basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
8 ounces of kamut pasta
4-6 ounces of sweet sausage, out of casing and mixed with 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 tbsp basil, fine dice, 1/4 tbsp pepper/1/8 tsp kosher salt

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Toss the pasta in and cook to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, blitz the basil, olive oil, garlic, walnuts, salt and pepper to a thick paste. Set the pesto aside.

In a searing hot pan, drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil and saute the sausage, garlic, basil, salt and pepper, until the sausage is cooked through. I love a deep caramelization on my meat, so I tend to cook sausage well done.

Toss the pesto, drained hot pasta, and sausage in a bowl. Serve hot!


back to basics: homemade basil pesto sauce

To say that this week was bipolar, that it was in massive need of meds, would be an understatement. After a haze of meetings, presentations, long-nights in the office, and the realization that I’m just too old for uncomfortable shoes, I decided to keep things simple. I cancelled my plans and spent today stretching my limbs in yoga, finalizing my taxes, and chowing on all the comfort foods I adore. From kale and lentil soup to mini red velvet cupcakes to homemade pesto, I feel good filling myself with a few indulgences and a lot of flavor.

And make no mistake — if told that this were my last day on earth and I had but one meal left, I would beg and plead for a bowl of pesto pasta. Marrying the ultimate salve and the verdant sauce is perfection (and why not toss in some salty cheese for good measure?) — I can’t think of a more comforting meal. So instead of fixing the Thai noodles I had planned to make, I instead blasted some tunes and blitzed up some leaves and dove, fork-first, into a delicious meal.

Even though I’ve made nearly two dozen permutations of this simple recipe, I always return to the basil version. It’s simple, savory, and perfection when ladled over a steaming hot bowl of farfalle.

And there’s a playlist! Going forward, I’m going to include some of the songs I’m playing whilst blitzing, baking, shaking and chowing. Hope you enjoy the experience of returning to oneself, with food, just as much as I do.

1 lb of pasta
2 cups of basil leaves, packed
1/4 + 2 tbsp of garlic-infused olive oil*
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup kosher salt for the pasta water
8-10 balls of mozzarella (or bocconcini), or opt for 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella

*If you don’t have garlic-infused oil, feel free to mince up a large clove of garlic in olive oil.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is bubbling, add in 1/4 cup of kosher salt. Nigella Lawson once said that ones pasta water should resemble the Mediterranean, and I’ve been thinking about briny waters ever since. Once your water returns to a boil, toss in your pasta. Stir to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick.

While the pasta is cooking, toss the basil (I tend to chop up the leaves so all the ingredients incorporate evenly in the food processor), salt, pepper, and blitz for 10 seconds. Add in the olive oil and pulse into you get a smooth, liquid mixture. Add in the cheese and pulse until the mixture combines and the pesto is a thick paste. Add the pesto to the bottom of your large serving bowl.

Cook the pasta until it’s al dente (1-2 minutes less than what the package calls for). Drain and add to a large serving bowl. Stir from the bottom up, making sure that all of the noodles are coated. You’ll notice that my farfalle isn’t DROWNING IN PESTO. This is because I LOATHE AN OVER-SAUCED ANYTHING. You need enough sauce to coat the noodles, but we’re not talking pesto soup, people. The pesto is the spring jacket, not the WHOLE OUTFIT.

A woman digresses.

Once you’ve evenly incorporated the pesto, add in the cheese, a smattering of cracked pepper and a few basil leaves for garnish. Eat piping hot! Pesto by felsull on Grooveshark