I was wandering the farmer’s market this weekend and I decided that one day this week I would make a vegetarian meal for Jan and Eilene. I had made some pesto to preserve some of the basil that was burgeoning in our garden. I decided that pesto-something would be the main dish.
The obvious choice would be pasta, but Jan is strictly controlling how much starch she is eating. If I served noodles, she would only eat one serving the size of a deck of playing cards. I would have to think of something else.
After years of saying she did not like cauliflower, Jan has admitted to really liking the ways I have been fixing it lately. I think what she was really saying is she did not like the way our mothers always cooked it (to death). Many vegetarian recipes use cauliflower as a kind of mock pasta, to replace the starch. I decided that it would work very well here and then Jan could eat her fill.
Note: Since this menu was turning Italianate, I decided to add some sliced dry Italian salami on the side for the meat eaters.
After Dinner Note: If you are using a pre-made pesto, this is a very easy and quick dish to make. Jan really liked it, “Very satisfying and filling, with good umami.”
Karl’s Pesto Cauliflower
1 medium cauliflower
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbs. canola oil (or olive oil)
½ cup Karl’s Pesto (full batch listed here)
2 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
½+ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Remove the leaves and toughest part of the stem from the cauliflower, but do not break it into florets.
2. Use a pot that is close to the size of the cauliflower, but a bit deeper. Add water to cover and add the salt.
3. Bring the pot to a boil, add the cauliflower upside down, and then reduce the temperature to medium low. Simmer until the cauliflower is about ¾ done (about 15 minutes).
4. Let the cauliflower cool slightly and then break it into florets. Cut any large florets into bite sized pieces.
5. Add the oil to a large sauté pan and brown the florets over high heat, about 5 minutes. Turn them occasionally, so that they do not burn.
6. Turn off the heat and add the pesto, tossing the florets until coated.
Tip: The heat of the pan will warm the pesto enough to make if flow without over cooking it. If you do not have homemade pesto, a store bought one will do.
7. Transfer to a serving dish.