It seems like a new state legalizes marijuana every week, with New York being the latest to hop on the bandwagon. This is good news from everyone from casual pot smokers to legacy market operators to small farmers and…chefs. When her home state of Vermont started the process of legalization in 2018, cookbook author Tracey Medeiros’s ears perked up. “I found myself continually reading about the plant’s potential for medicinal benefits,” she says. “This piqued my interest, motivating me to reach out to folks all across our country who use cannabis as a culinary ingredient. I was amazed to see and hear how this plant was transforming the culinary and cannabis landscape.”
Medeiros has written several other recipe books, including The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook, and The Vermont Non-GMO Cookbook, and, most recently, The Art of Cooking with Cannabis, whose release serendipitously coincided with New York’s legalization. “I felt this was something that needed to be written because this is how the food industry is evolving,” she says “ Now, those who cook and create nourishing recipes can feel comfortable stepping out of the shadows and into the sunlight to share their passion for the use of this plant.”
The book is broken down into three overarching sections: CBD, Hemp, and THC recipes, and within each section, further divided by geographic region. “I thought it would be interesting to divide the book by regions, thereby enabling folks to see what each of these areas were doing with cannabis and how they were incorporating this plant into their local cuisine,” Medeiros says.
Like her other books before, this one straddles the line between cookbook and cultural anthology. “This cookbook showcases a collection of personal stories as well as culturally diverse recipes,” Medeiros says. “The folks who share them touch upon their personal struggles and successes as well as the potential health and wellness benefits of the cannabis plant. These stories are both heartwarming and uplifting bringing hope and a possible medical alternative.” This book also offers sidebars, informative tips, and practical how-to guidance.
The 125 recipes in the book are a far cry from the pot brownies we all made in high school. They range from soups and sides to cocktails and desserts. Most of them don’t even sound like they have cannabis in them. Take Medeiros’ favorites: sweet corn ice cream with brown sugar crumble and wild blueberries; smoked mussels with roasted corn puree and peppers; raw sweet corn and cashew chowder and and chicken kale meatballs with CBD-infused cherry tomato and pesto sauces. For newbies, she advises to “start low, go slow,” in terms of moderating your milligram intake. “One dose does not fit all,” Medeiros says. “Always review a product’s packing information to be educated on milligram dosages. Purchase brands that offer a certificate of analysis which ensures that the product you buy has been tested and is safe.”
Below is a recipe excerpted from The Art of Cooking With Cannabis for a raw hemp pesto from Freya Dobson of Hudson Hemp. Other Upstate contributors to the book include SFOGLINI Pasta (West Coxsackie, NY) and Local 111 Restaurant (Philmont, NY). The Art of Cooking with Cannabis is on sale now.
Raw Hemp Leaf Pesto
Excerpted from The Art of Cooking with Cannabis: CBD and THC-Infused Recipes from Across America by Tracey Medeiros (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2021).
Yield: makes approximately 1 cup
Freya Dobson of Hudson Hemp says, “For those wishing to add CBD oil to the pesto, I recommend adding 10 milligrams of Treaty Balance per serving. Treaty’s parent company is Hudson Hemp. The Balance formula includes only the farm’s proprietary organic hemp, grown and processed at our regenerative farm. It’s the simplest formula for experiencing the benefits of broad-spectrum hemp extract in isolation.
• 3 or 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 3 tablespoons organic raw pine nuts, walnuts, or cashews
• 1 cup fresh organic hemp leaves, woody stems removed, lightly packed
• 1 cup fresh organic basil leaves, lightly packed
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic kale leaves, stems and inner ribs removed and discarded, lightly packed
• Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or hemp seed oil
• 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, or to taste
• Pink Himalayan sea salt, fine-grain
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Process the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until minced. Add the hemp, basil, kale, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and process until well combined. While the food processor is running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
• Spoon the pesto into a decorative bowl and fold in the nutritional yeast. Adjust seasonings with additional lemon juice and nutritional yeast, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spread on toasted bread rounds topped with sliced cherry tomatoes or lightly drizzle pesto over and around your favorite eggs. Note: See fried egg recipe (page 186).
The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with a thin layer of olive oil, for up to 2 days.
Raw hemp leaves are rich in cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). It is a nonintoxicating, inactive cannabinoid. When CBDa is heated (activated) through a process known as decarboxylation, it converts to CBD. Since this recipe uses raw hemp leaves that have not gone through a decarboxylation or extraction process, CBD is not present.