Basil Spread

Servings: 4-6


  • Kosher Salt
  • 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (slivered almonds would also work)
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed and peeled
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • One 15 ½ ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano


  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add the basil and blanch until bright green and wilted, about a minute.  Cool in an ice bath, drain, and wring very dry.
  2. Place the basil, parsley, pine nuts, garlic, and a large pinch of salt in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to make a chunky pasta. 
  3. With the processor running, add the oil in a steady stream to make a thick sauce. 
  4. Add the beans, and process to make a smooth bright green puree.  Sprinkle in the grated cheese, and pulse to incorporate. 
  5. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Adapted from Felidia:  Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant (By Lidia Bastianich, Fortunato Nicotra, Tanya Bastianich Manuali; Alfred A. Knopf, 2019)

Hummus Quesadillas

Quesadillas are not typically Italian, but I like a good quesadilla-style sandwich for lunch on weekends.  My daughter started eating hummus in high school, so I started feeding her my version of hummus, a basil and white bean puree.    And why the chickpea tortilla?  I love that it’s gluten free, but I also grew up eating panelle (chickpea fritters) in Sicily. It’s a little nostalgia in every bite.  

Servings: 4


  • 1 cup of Basil Spread (or store-bought hummus)
  • Four 8-inch chickpea tortillas (regular or whole wheat tortillas can also be used)
  • ½ cup of arugula (you can use Italian arugula, rocket arugula, sylvetta arugula or kale)
  • 2-3 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cup of toasted almonds (optional)
  • 12 slices of medium tofu (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil to brush the pan


  1.  Spread the Basil Spread (or hummus) over half of each tortilla. Lightly cover with equal amounts of arugula and tomato slices.  (If you’d like, add the almonds and/or tofu for a little extra protein.)
  2. Fold the blank half of the tortilla over to create a half-moon shape.
  3. Brush a non-stick skillet with the olive oil oil or vegetable oil, and preheat over medium heat.
  4. Place the folded quesadilla in the pan.  With the palm of your hand, press lightly to make sure it’s adhering to the pan.  Cook until the bottom is lightly golden and crisp.  Carefully flip and cook the other side. (You can also use a grill pan to toast your quesadillas.)
  5. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board, and finish cooking the remaining quesadillas.  Allow each quesadilla to rest for a couple of minutes before cutting into three wedges with a chef’s knife or pizza cutter .  Serve immediately.