As someone who owns a disturbingly high number of cookbooks, subscribes to several cooking magazines, and downloads cookbooks on her iPad on a regular basis, I am aware that those should be my main source of inspiration for dinners. Surprisingly, one more time I will blog on something seen on FoodTV.  Go figure. Rachael Ray enticed me with this pesto, especially through her description of how floral and complex-tasting Fresno peppers can be.  I had most ingredients around, all I needed to grab at the grocery store was the bright red Fresno pepper.  Quick to put together, this turned out as a very delicious pesto.  Not sure about the floral, though. Read on… 😉

Thai-Style Pesto

(adapted from Rachael Ray)
1 pound brown rice spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh baby arugula leaves
5 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons tamari
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 Fresno chile, seeded
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.Place the basil and arugula leaves, 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, tamari, garlic, lime juice, and chile into a food processor. Pulse into a paste. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the pesto into a large bowl and reserve.  If the pesto seems too thick, reserve a little bit of the pasta cooking water, and use it to thin the pesto right before incorporating into the cooked spaghetti.
Drain the pasta, add to the pesto, and toss to combine. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds.

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Rachael Ray’s title for this show was “Thai Tonight”, and she served the pasta with a stir-fry of chiles and chicken over shredded iceberg lettuce.  I had some iceberg lettuce in the fridge, but went with grilled flank steak.  I simply seasoned the lettuce with lime juice and a tiny bit of grapeseed oil, added some Campari tomatoes that were feeling ignored and risking the cruel fate of a compost pile. The grilled steak rested on the bed of this improvised salad.  A simple main dish to allow the pasta to shine.


I did not have a lot of basil available, so I used baby arugula to compensate, I like its sharper nature. Now, let’s address the floral component of a Fresno chile.  When I plated the dish, I told Phil that next time I would use two peppers to make it more colorful, because “Fresno is all about flavor, not real heat.”  After the second forkful of pasta, lips burning, taste buds fried, we were both grateful that I used only one!   ;-)  Either Rachael’s tolerance for heat is a lot higher than mine, or I managed to pick a mutant pepper with unusually high levels of capsaicin at the grocery store. But, the interesting thing is that after a while we more or less got used to the heat and the sweat dripping from our foreheads, and thought the level of spice was just right.  So I say be brave, grab a Fresno (make sure you seed it) and go for it!

Rachael used brown rice pasta as the starch component.  Traditionally, one would choose the regular, white rice noodles associated with Thai cooking, and of course they work great for this type of dish.  But I loved the slightly firmer texture of the brown rice spaghetti.  Nowadays I use whole wheat pasta almost exclusively, but both brown rice and quinoa pasta have their spot in the Bewitching pantry.

platedDinner is served!


ONE YEAR AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

THREE YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp


  1. I know what you mean. I want to hate Rachael Ray like everyone else seems to but every once in a while, I find one of her recipes on another blog or on Pinterest and I’m in love. 🙂 This looks good but I will watch the pappers because I want to keep my lips.


    • A few things on her show irritate me to no end. Her acronyms for instance – the point of an acronym is to avoid saying something too long. Now, if every time you say EVOO you repeat right after “extra virgin olive oil’, the acronym becomes useless. And she creates this cute names like “stoup”, and keeps explaining what they are two, three times during the show. I understand that it is part of the rules on TV, you never know who just tuned in and missed the first explanation… but still, it is annoying. And I swear that every time she throws the bit of salt behind her back I roll my eyes to the ceiling… her kitchen floor must be like a salt dune. 😉

      so, you can see that even “I” cannot understand why I post on stuff from Food TV


      • I happened to watch a show where she actually responded to an email/text whatever from a fan who questioned why she threw salt behind her back and wasn’t that terrible for the poor people who had to clean everything up… and she got really defense and semi nasty. I’m surprised it was left in the show – she didn’t handle it in her typically giggly manner. Wish i could remember her exact words.
        by the way (btw) i roll my eyes too.


  2. arrggghhhhh i really can’t stand her. I shouldn’t be so harsh. but she bugs me. that said, I’ve also picked up on a few ideas i’ve used having her show on in the background for white noise. this recipe looks divine!


  3. So glad I’m not the only one surrounding by cookbooks, magazines and the like and for me, when I see something in a restaurant, I run home to make it! My cookbooks tho do inspire me, they are my late night reading, the simple fact that I can walk by and easily pick one up as the mood hits me. I’ll never part with my comforting books!!

    I like heat too, but too much is too much! I like the flavor combinations, I see why you needed to try this out!


    • Same for me… I normally read some cookbook in bed before going to sleep, a nice ritual. The iPad has been replacing real cookbooks lately, but I do prefer turning real pages, rather than virtual ones…


  4. I actually like Rachel even if she’s overly upbeat sometimes and this meal looks and sounds very tasty. I’d have to do too much shopping to find ingredients to make it in the near future but it may show up on my table at some point in the future.🙂

    PS: I agree with the EVOO issue. Why use the acronym if you keep explaining what it stands for. Just say extra virgin olive oil and move on already!


    • Glad someone agree with me, I swear those acronyms that have no purpose drive me nuts! And Anne Burrell does the exact same thing, even in her cookbooks… BTB-RTS = bring to boil, reduce to simmer….. I guess it’s a sign of the times! (yes, I do have more serious issues to worry about, but cannot resist getting irritated at some details 😉


    • I am also a complete pesto-addict – it’s such an easy way to add flavor to a pasta, without making it heavy with sauce. Bright flavors, that’s what I like the most about them


  5. Her acronyms drive me crazy (but I actually love several of her recipes, and I have a feeling that this one might be then next to join the list!) This looks so good Sally. Thank you for sharing. As always, it brings a smile to my face to visit your blog!


  6. The thai flavors in this definitely intrigue me!! And it is so funny all the places from which we find inspiration…I feel like I cook so much from the internet even though I am constantly surrounded by cookbooks!


    • Very true. I think Pinterest is part of the “problem” – it becomes too tempting to pin all those recipes from the net, and they have a visual appeal that is hard to ignore.


  7. Like you, I’ve got far too many cookbooks. I even called a moratorium on buying them that lasted about 9 months. I decided that it was time to buy just one, Jerusalem, and before I knew it, I’d bought 6 other cookbooks. Kinda made the moratorium pointless. Ya think?
    I’m not necessarily a fan of Rachael but she doesn’t bother me like she does others. Believe me, there are a few other chefs/cooks that I just refuse to watch. Looks like you picked a good set of recipes to borrow here. A “Thai-style” pesto is something I’d love to try, though I doubt I’ll find Fresno peppers here. Fresh merluzzo I can get; Fresno peppers, not so much. 🙂


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