So, it’s January 8th already. I’ve made my way through two fantastic cookbooks already this year (surprise surprise, I posted both of them in Weekend Finds). And I’m going to take the time to gush about one in-depth. Yes, it came out in October of last year. Yes, it’s been reviewed to high heaven. Yes, it’s an Amazon.com best seller (and was from, like, day one). And yes, part of me wants to be Deb when I grow up. Except with a bigger kitchen. Yes, I’m gushing about the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I borrowed it from the library in November 2012; as I marked almost each recipe “to try” I knew I would benefit from owning this book. And I have. Since unwrapping it for Christmas, I’ve read it again (twice!), and sometimes I just pull it out to look through the pictures and get ideas.
Here’s the deal, I’m going to share an adapted recipe from the book: Cauliflower Pesto. I was skeptical at first. But in the vein of a New Year’s resolution to try new things and cook one new recipe a week, I let Deb be my guide. She and her blog had never failed me in the past, so why would they start now?
Casey was also skeptical of the dish, but his verdict after eating half his bowl was that it reminded him of a healthier carbonara. When you pulse the cauliflower (and I roasted mine prior to blitzing) in a food processor then stir it in with blitzed parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic, the cauliflower takes on a new flavor profile. I tossed my pesto with whole wheat linguine, fresh chopped parsley, and a sprinkle more of parmesan. This made for a perfect Monday night supper.
Cauliflower Pesto, adapted from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- 1 head of cauliflower, core removed and chopped into florets
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds
- 2-4 dry packed sun dried tomatoes (I found mine at a farmers market grocery)
- 2 ounce chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting (if you are roasting)
- 1-2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- Your choice of pasta, enough for four servings
I roasted my cauliflower first, which made the mixture a bit stickier, but still tasty. On a large baking sheet or in a baking dish, toss chopped cauliflower and garlic with additional olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until cauliflower are browning. Remove and allow to cool completely.
Blitz the cooled cauliflower in a food processor until their are no large pieces and the cauliflower looks like couscous. Transfer to your mixing or serving bowl. In the same food processor, blitz almonds, sun dried tomatoes, cheese, parsley, and red pepper flakes into a bread crumb like consistency. Add this to the cauliflower mixture.
Stir in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sherry vinegar. Use a wooden spoon to store together the mixture.
Boil your pasta to al dente (depending on instructions) in well salted pasta water. Drain and toss with the pesto. Use reserved pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if needed. I added three pieces of crumbled bacon to my dish, which added an additional crunch. Leave off if you do not want. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary (may need salt and pepper, to taste.)
Garnish with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.