Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

DSC_0216These days, if you’re looking at a recipe involving both pasta and cauliflower, chances are that it’s an attempt to turn the cauliflower into a sort of pasta substitute.  I get it.  People on gluten-free and low carb diets miss pasta.  I would, too.  That, however, is not the point of this recipe.  I won’t even go so far as to say that this is a healthy pasta dish.  Although it’s certainly a bit lower on the calorie count than an alfredo sauce, that’s not really the point either.  ”So what is the point?” you ask.  The point is that it’s delicious.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.  The cauliflower is there because this is just a delicious way to eat pasta.  The cauliflower is just there to be cauliflower.  DSC_0164

Whoa.  Mind blown, right? I do have to be honest and admit that while the cauliflower is hiding in plain sight, it’s still kind of hiding in that, “What is this?” kind of way.  It’s flavored up with some bits and bobs and what emerges from the food processor, while most definitely cauliflower pesto, is a spread that even cauli-haters (ahem, husband) will enjoy.  And I suppose if you’re into the whole sneaking-veg-into-kids’-meals thing, this would be right up your alley.  The flavor is unique, slightly tangy from the capers, a bit sweet from the sun-dried tomatoes, a little nutty from the almonds.  But nothing is overpowering; it’s strangely just right.  I say strangely, because seriously… cauliflower pesto?  But it works.  And if you’re so inclined, I nearby endorse putting this stuff on those zucchini noodles that everyone is so crazy about. But if you want, you can have your pasta and your cauliflower and eat it, too.DSC_0213

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 lb), broken or chopped into chunks
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 2 oz parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb spaghetti or pasta of your choice

For pesto:

Pulse about half the cauliflower in the food processor until the texture roughly resembles large bread crumbs. Transfer the cauliflower to another bowl. Repeat with the other half of the cauliflower, and put that into the bowl, as well.

Now, pulse the garlic, red pepper flakes, almonds, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and parsley in the food processor until this, too, looks like bread crumbs. Stir this mixture into the bowl with the cauliflower, along with the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper at this point.

For pasta:

Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions. Before draining, reserve a cup of the cooking water from the pasta. DON'T FORGET! (I always forget.) Immediately toss the pasta with the pesto, adding about half of the pasta water to thin it out. Toss until the pesto is coating all the pasta, adding more of the pasta water if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Serve immediately, with extra cheese for topping.


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