One of our fruit'n'veg deliveries included a surprise packet of pasta, and it sat on the edge of our kitchen table for several weeks before I got around to planning a meal with it. We tossed around a couple of our usual ideas (soy bomb meatballs? green veges and pesto?) and I browsed a few cookbooks. Cauliflower pesto popped out from our underused Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: I'm fond of pesto, and liked that there'd be some extra veges in this version.
Even with our big food processor on the blink, this pesto came together effectively using our less powerful stick blender attachments. None of the veges need cooking, simply picking up on the pasta's ambient heat: grate over some extra parmesan and you're done! The flavour was good but subtle; I reckon I'll double the pesto-to-cauliflower ratio in future. It's a quick weeknight-friendly meal with only one tiny downside: while serving the long, spaghetti-like pasta I found myself flicking little cauliflower specks all over the kitchen!
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
1 small or 1/2 large head of cauliflower, split into florets
1 clove garlic
generous pinch chilli flakes
1/2 cup almonds or pine nuts, toasted
55g parmesan, plus extra for garnish
4 sun-dried tomatoes, preferably not packed in oil
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to the boil.
While the water is heating, prepare the pesto. In batches that fit your food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it resembles couscous, and transfer it to a large bowl. Empty out the food processor, then use it to blend together the garlic, chilli flakes, almonds/pine nuts, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and parsley to form a coarse pesto. Add this pesto and the olive oil to the cauliflower bowl, and stir everything together well. Season with salt, pepper and the vinegar.
When the water is boiling, add the linguine and cook as instructed on the packet. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the rest. Toss together the pasta, cauliflower pesto, and 1/2 cup of the cooking water; add a little more water if the pesto feels too thick or clumpy. Serve the pasta, and grate a little more parmesan over each plate.