I’m back with another recent weeknight dinner favorite. It’s a hearty pasta dish, and it’s a keeper.
I can always count on pasta to get Paloma (9) eating dinner without too many negotiations, and I generally try to hide/pack as many vegetables as possible between the noodles. She would definitely be much happier eating plain pasta with a few grates of sheep’s milk cheese on top, but she’ll also tolerate most veggies when they’re interwoven with any pasta-like food. This one is made wholesome with a special, cauliflower ‘pesto’ with pistachios, herbs and golden raisins.
We roast cauliflower florets pretty often around these parts, and I go through phases where I get very sick of roasted cauliflower. I’m in one of those phases now. I still automatically grab a head of cauliflower every time I buy groceries for the week, and that’s when I’m forced to be a bit more creative and figure out something else to do with it. If I’m lazy, I’ll just steam and freeze the cauliflower to use in the veggie-packed smoothies that Masha and I are obsessed with right now. If I’m a bit more motivated, I’ll experiment and generally come up with something really tasty like this ‘pesto’ number. I credit cauliflower with all my experimental success, since it’s one of the most delicious and versatile vegetables, in my opinion.
Pulsed cauliflower sautéed with onion takes the leading role in the ‘pesto’, much like basil would in a traditional pesto. There are nuts, herbs and garlic, too, and it’s quite flavorful and almost like a chunky sauce in texture, hence the choice of name. Plumped, golden raisins take the whole thing to the next level – imagine sweet, juicy pockets in the midst of everything savory and carb-y. Delicious all the way. Any leftover cauliflower pesto is really good on toast, in salads or bowls.
We are going to Italy next week, Rome and the Amalfi Coast to be more specific. If you’ve been there, we would greatly appreciate any recommendations you might have as far as things to see / do / eat. Thank you :)
- half a cauliflower head - roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion - chopped
- 8 oz pasta (preferably noodle shape like fettuccine, linguini, spaghetti, etc.)
- sea salt
- 3 garlic cloves - sliced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ¾ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- large handful of basil leaves (optional)
- Place the chopped cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse into rice-sized pieces (some will be bigger, some smaller, and that's fine). Set aside.
- Warm the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 7 minutes, or until translucent.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook your pasta according to the time on the package. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water and set aside.
- Add salt, garlic and red pepper flakes to the sautéed onion and cook for another minute. Add the riced cauliflower and lemon juice, increase the heat and stir around until the lemon juice is absorbed/evaporated.
- Lower the heat back to a medium. Add the reserved pasta cooking liquid, mustard, paprika, raisins and pistachios. Mix well and cook for about 8 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked, but not mushy.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Mix in the herbs and serve.