Sauce, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Dinner

Thai Pesto

We currently have two basil plants growing in our apartment. Thanks to Dr. Brenda’s expert touch with all things botanous these pots of herbs are not just growing but, rather, overflowing. My sister left me to babysit her basil while she traveled around the country and I, in turn, placed said child in the loving care of my roommate, the aforementioned Dr. Brenda. It was a wise decision on my part, I have a skeletal touch with greenery and have withered many good plants before their time. As Dr. Brenda once said, “Dan’s succulents are not so succulent.” 

All this basil threw me instantly into pesto mode (duh), but I wanted to make something a bit different. Weeks ago I dined with my mom atDouble Crown (her current favorite restaurant). We ordered plates and plates of our cravings-Daikon Fries and Chicken Wings (both GF) but also decided to order something new. On the menu, a cold Coconut Milk Poached Chicken Salad caught our eye. “Do you want to try that?” my mother asked. “It may be the one thing on the menu we haven’t yet ordered!” I replied. 

When it arrived to our table we were both pleasantly satisfied with the creamy tender chicken. Tossed with some veggies and topped with spiced peanuts, the dish was a refreshingly light bite in the midst of our fried-food breakdown. And of course, I wanted to make it at home. 

Poaching chicken is something I rarely, if ever, do. I assume it is far too boring to serve to guests and much to silly to make for myself. I am wrong. A few batches of chicken thighs slowly cooked in coconut milk have converted me to the beauty of poaching. 

Things I learned:

-You can add ginger, chilies, garlic, etc. to your coconut milk while it’s poaching, OR NOT. The flavor of pure coconut milk is enough.

-Once the chicken is finished, remove it and reduce the poaching liquid at a high boil until it is thick and almost syrupy. This is the true gold of the dish.

-Chicken so creamy and delicate deserves a topping of the freshest variety. 

Which brings me back to that basil. Since I was working with coconut milk I presumed all my flavors should sit in Southeast Asia. I took the mounds of fresh basil and concocted a Thai pesto out of it. Basil, mint, shallots, cashews, chilis-love. I made a giant batch and threw half of it in the freezer. Surely I’ll need some of this vivid green in the deep of winter. As the summer wanes and you find yourself with too much basil on hand, make this. Make it in triplicate, eat it on toast, serve it with roasted chicken, stir it into rice-you cannot make a bad move here. 


Free of Dairy, Gluten, Eggs, Peanuts, Fish, Shell Fish. Vegan.

  • 6 cups Basil Leaves
  • 1 cup Mint Leaves
  • 1 ½ cups Cashews (roasted or unroasted, but certainly unsalted)
  • 2 medium Shallots
  • Juice of One Lime
  • 1 small Chili (remove the seeds if you don’t want a kick)
  • 1 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Get Busy

  1. Add the first 6 ingredients to a food processor (everything but oil, salt and pepper). Buzz until all the ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. With the processor still buzzing, slowly stream in the olive oil. The veggies and nuts will come together in a fine paste now.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and taste. Always taste.
  4. Eat it.

Prep. Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2-3 cups