The Art of Pairing… Plus Recipes to Get You Started!

Cooking Confidently with Cannabis…

Daunting. Confusing. Scary. These are the words I hear most often from students I teach how to cook with Cannabis. Most of us know someone who has had a “not so stellar” experience with edibles. I mean, cooking with cannabis is easy, right? You just throw some weed into some butter or oil, let it infuse its precious medicine and… voilà! You’re a cannabis chef!

Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Each strain of cannabis has its own unique terpene profile responsible for the taste and odor of the plant as well as a specific cannabinoid profile. THC and CBD are only 2 of these compounds. THC is the primary compound responsible for the potent psychoactive feeling you get from edibles. CBD on the other hand is a non-intoxicating medicinal compound in the plant, that is known for its restorative and pain relief affects. The rest of the cannabinoids like THCV, CBN and CBG combine with the terpenes and flavonoids to create what is known as the ‘entourage effect’.

When I first started cooking with Cannabis, I was challenged to make my infused dishes taste like the desired food rather than the strong ‘weedy’ taste associated with edibles. There’s a time and place for everything, and the strong taste of cannabis should not overpower the actual taste of your food. As I like to say, “Just because you love garlic, doesn’t mean you want it in your chocolate chip cookies”.  So, I invented a way to make Light Tasting cannabutter and cannaoil. I’ve shared the process in a previous article and it’s also available in my cookbook, ​The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine.

The Important Role of Terpenes

The art of preparing a paired cannabis infused meal means re-creating the terpene experience by matching the terpene profile of the strain you are working with, with actual food items. The same terpenes found in cannabis strains can also be found in various herbs, fruits and vegetables. Your body doesn’t know whether a terpene comes from a cannabis strain which has Limonene or a citrus fruit like lemon or lime which has the same terpene. So, if you know the terpene profile of the strain you are cooking with, you can easily create a menu with items that match the terpenes found in that strain. You can find the terpene profile of the strain you are using on websites such as Leafly. You can also find a bevy of  “Terpene Guides” online, that will help you find food sources with the same terpenes.

Once you know what you’re working with, it’s as easy as creating complementary food items which contain the same terpenes as the strain. For example, if you are cooking with Blue Dream, whose terpene profile is predominantly comprised of Myrcene, Pinene and Caryophyllene, you can create menu items featuring natural food sources which contain all three compounds. My Canna-Chilli Tarragon Cauliflower​ and ​Mango Sticky Rice​ are two perfect examples and two very different menu items from my cookbook. They contain all three terpenes found in Blue Dream. As a chef (or aspiring home cook), the true art of pairing is understanding the flavors of the plant and of the particular strain you are working with and then matching them with the different components of the meal to create a delicious and memorable culinary experience.

Dose responsibly!

Canna-Chili Tarragon Cauliflower

By: Jeff the 420 Chef

Leela Cyd from The 420 Gourmet by JeffThe420Chef


  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups light olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs Italian parsley, destemmed and roughly chopped
  • 6 sprigs tarragon, destemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup capers
  • 1 tablespoon canna–olive oil plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Calabrian chilies, sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs


  1. Wash the cauliflower and cradle in a dishtowel to remove excess. Toss the cauliflower florets in the cornstarch to coat. Shake off the excess and set aside.
  2. Preheat a wide, shallow frying pan over high heat. Fill with about 1-inch of light olive oil and lower the heat to medium.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets. Season with salt and pan fry over medium-high heat. As they cook, turn each piece so all sides brown evenly. It’s okay if the florets are crowded; it will create steam and help them cook through. Fry until evenly browned. Place in a colander to drain. Sprinkle with chili flakes.
  1. Add the capers to the remaining hot oil in the frying pan and fry for about 1 minute until they puff up a little. Using a slotted spoon, remove the toasted capers to a plate lined with paper.
  2. Discard the light olive oil and add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic, parsley, tarragon, and toasted capers and cook over medium, Stir until the garlic is browned. Remove from the heat and add canna–olive oil mixture. Add cauliflower back to the pan and toss. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with Calabrian chili and breadcrumbs and serve.

To kick it up a notch, you make this recipe Buffalo Style. Simply toss with your favorite hot sauce.

Copyright ©2016 by JeffThe420Chef. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Sweet Mango Rice

By Jeff the 420 Chef

If you like Thai sticky rice, you’ll love this deconstructed version of the original, which is not too sticky and not too sweet. With a little magical ingredient, it comes pretty close to perfection!

Leela Cyd from The 420 Gourmet by JeffThe420Chef


  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 tablespoon canna–coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 4 cups salted water
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ cup raw cane sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into either slices or small cubes (whatever you prefer)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, canna–coconut oil, and extra-virgin coconut oil with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil, then immediately cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  2. In a separate saucepan, bring the coconut milk, sugar, and salt to a boil. Remove from the heat and mix in shredded coconut.
  3. When the rice is finished cooking, pour the coconut milk mixture over it and stir to combine. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel and replace the lid. Let the rice sit for about 40 minutes to absorb the coconut milk.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the mango by combining it with the juice of 1 lime. Toss to cover thoroughly and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, put the rice in a serving dish and top with the mango Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and voilà!

Copyright ©2016 by JeffThe420Chef. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Previous Post
Next Post
Live an Empowered Life with Powerful Plant Medicine