Thai Basil Pesto 

Story, recipe, and photos by Sarah Whitmore 

It’s important we share tips for reducing our carbon footprints and minimizing the waste of resources (like food!). Also important is not wasting the patience of other people by yammering on about how green we are. Walk your talk but keep calm and zip it. 


Climate healer or a climate loudmouth? Take this short quiz to find out. 

  1.   You ask a waitress to wrap up the teaspoon of cabbage garnish left on your plate. You don’t want to waste it—you could ferment that later. When she returns with your pinch of slaw in a landfill-bound Styrofoam container, you:

a. Glare in disgust and insist she scoop the “salad” into your organic, cupped hands 

b. Slap the container to the ground, rub your temples, and   scream-cry. 

c.  Say thank you and reuse the polluting vessel to store your endangered wilderness creature stickers. 

  1.   Hiking, you notice a family with kids up ahead. A child accidentally drops a plastic straw on the trail, you:

a. Pick up the straw with your Litter-Cane-Clench-Claw and just as you pass the group, hold the straw aloft and shriek: LOSE SOMETHING? LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS!! 

b. Hastily whittle a spear. Confront the group at spearpoint.   March them back to collect the offending refuse—restoring the trail to its natural beauty. 

c.  Pick up the straw, put it in your jute hip-pack, and keep your mouth shut. 

(If you don’t have a spouse, ask your neighbor or an environment rights attorney to grade your test.) 

It’s admirable that you carry a beeswax-coated coconut shell in your kilt pouch for restaurant leftovers. It’s another thing to expect wait staff not to punt your coconut out onto the street when you present it to them. It’s Trump’s world now, we fill our own eco-shells. 

In honor of NOT WASTING, I embarked on a research project—eating only what was in my home—no shopping! The experiment was to last a month. Unforeseen variables (boredom) cut the study short. The exercise inspired creativity. After five days, however, subjects refused meals of highly freezer-burned tortillas and horseradish. A favorite concoction resulting from the failed experiment was this Asian-inspired Thai Basil Pesto over ramen. 


3 bunches Thai basil 

1 bunch mint 

1¼ cups toasted macadamia or peanuts 

(½ cup reserved for garnish) 

1/4 cup coconut cream: prepared or skimmed from a can of coconut milk. 

3 tablespoons avocado oil 

1-2 cloves garlic 

2 tablespoons tamari 

1 tablespoon green curry paste 

1 teaspoon fish sauce 

1-3 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 


De-stem basil and mint. Compost the stems. 

Peel garlic. 

Combine ingredients in a food processor. Blend until just before smooth—I’m pro-texture. 

Toss with a favorite Asian noodle: Ramen, Soba, rice noodles . . . 

Sprinkle chopped nuts over each dish and garnish with mint and basil leaves. 

Embellish with red chili sauce for heat and beauty. 

Serve hot or add fresh veggies like Napa cabbage and chill until ready to serve. 

Sarah Whitmore is a teacher, self-taught cook, and stand-up comedian who lives in Petaluma. 

Instagram and Twitter @savorbang. 


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