Move over kale and Brussels sprouts – Cauliflower is the new ‘it’ vegetable! At least that’s what food forecasters have predicted what the food trend will be this year. Who exactly gets to decide this, I don’t know, but I’ve always found cauliflower to be, well… boring.
So why are people using cauliflower in everything from pizza bread to a substitute for mashed potatoes? Cauliflower has a low glycemic index, which means that it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar. It is also high in Vitamin C, but has very few calories (about 25-20 per cup). It is also a good source of fiber; one cup has about 2 grams. That is the equivalent to a slice of whole wheat bread.
I stumbled upon this recipe on Mario Batali’s website. And by stumbled, I mean came across I mean frequently stalk his site for new recipes. He seems to do no wrong and every recipe that I’ve tried from his site has been delicious. Remember the Carbonara Arancini… that was his too!
So why should you make this pasta? Well, it is super easy! And instead of topping your pasta with a creamy, super indulgent sauce you can throw in this yummy cauliflower pesto and feel a lot less guilty. I even used whole wheat pasta. Double bonus!
You simply cut up a cauliflower head, the whole thing, and toss it into a food processor until you have what Mario calls “fat-boy” breadcrumbs. Empty the cauliflower into the bowl, add the rest of your pesto to the processor bowl and blend it together until you have a beautiful green paste.
Next, get your pasta cooking and once that starts to boil and is pretty much doing it’s own thing, start cooking the pesto and cauliflower mixture in a large sauce pan until it browns just a bit. Once the pasta is has reach that perfect al dente texture, drain from the water but reserve that cooking liquid, you’ll use it in just a bit.
Add the pasta to your cooked cauliflower pesto and toss, toss, toss. Add some of the pasta water until you get the consistency that you wish. And don’t forget to scape the brown bits from the bottom! That contains so much flavor.
And that’s it! Just top with a little grated cheese and you have a beautiful, but healthy pasta dish with the IT vegetable of the year.
- 1 12-16 oz head of cauliflower
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- 1 tin oil-packed anchovies
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 pound spaghetti, I used whole wheat
- ¼ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus more for garnish
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cut the cauliflower into large pieces, head leaves and everything, and place in a food processor and pulse to form pieces the size of large breadcrumbs.
- Place walnuts, anchovies, garlic, parsley, ¼ cup olive oil and jalapeño in the food processor and pulse until a smooth paste is achieved.
- Add the parmigiano-reggiano and pulse briefly. Add mix to cauliflower and set aside.
- Bring water for pasta to a boil, adding some salt and drop pasta in. Cook according to your pasta's package.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the cauliflower pesto mixture and cook 5-6 minutes until it is a light-golden brown color. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Remove the pasta from the water with tongs, reserving some of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the mixture.
- Toss over medium heat until well coated.
- Ladle pasta water into the pan to loosen the sauce, especially any brown bits left at the bottom.
- Remove from heat, grate any additional desired cheese over pasta and season with freshly ground pepper.
- Serve immediately.
Depending on how spicy you would like this recipe, you can reduce the amount of jalapeño or remove the seeds and flesh. You may also omit it entirely if you desire.