Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dairy and Tree Nut Free PESTO with cauliflower and roasted Cauliflower (or, the best meal I've made this week...)

It's difficult to convey how high this is -
however, this is the highest shelf in my
kitchen.  I also feel I need to let you know
I am 5'2"
A Cuisinart food processor is a very large appliance when you have a smallish kitchen.  I've seen people who have actual "sheds" for this appliance - little cubbies with roll-down fronts kind of like old fashioned roll-top desks.  Others have fancy-pants lower cabinets with a little lift that magically glides the heavy Cuisinart from the lower shelf to a spot that's counter level.  But I do not have such a kitchen.  I have a simple apple green kitchen with butcher block counters and my Cuisinart stays out on said counters for weeks at a time until I get sick of looking at it at which point I take it apart and stick it in an upper cabinet because clearly if I haven't used it in weeks, I'm not going to use it for more weeks.  The damn thing is heavy and the only free cabinet space for it is way up high and involves a step stool.  Yesterday, I put it away.  Today, I thought of a recipe and needed to use it.

Isn't that always the way it is?


One of the more difficult thing about being a dairy and tree nut/seed free home is proper basil pesto.  I do make basil/olive oil/garlic pesto - and it's fine - but I miss that wonderful grittiness that parmesan and pine nuts add.  Without them, well, it's just sauce.

So I was thinking about it this afternoon when I should have been grading papers.  And it suddenly occurred to me that I could get that grittiness if I used uncooked cauliflower or broccoli.  Not a lot - but you know how when you chop cauliflower up for roasting and there's always these little bits left, too small for the roasting pan, but it kills you to throw them away, because it's horrible to waste that much food but unless you let the dog eat it, how else are you going to use it?

Well, I propose that you scrap all that yumminess up and deposit it right into that Cuisinart you just struggled to get down from that upper shelf.

Then add some garlic and basil, maybe a little cilantro and some lemon juice and spin it up  and throw it on top of some pasta and you will have some pesto that is a lot like the traditional kind - but without all the things that gives your 16 year old daughter violent stomach aches and hives.

YUM - but - I know what you're thinking - what about the rest of that large head of cauliflower?  You toss it with olive oil and sea salt and a turn or two of pepper and roast it of course.  While it's roasting, prepare your pesto, cook your pasta, put it all together in a bowl and


One of my most favorite meals this month:

Here's the recipe:

1 clove of garlic
1 large bunch of basil (about 2 cups of leaves)
1/2 a bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup - stems removed)
1 large head of cauliflower chopped into large pieces except for 1/4 cup of florets chopped very small and all the little crumbly bits left on your cutting board
juice from 1/2 large lemon or 1 small lemon
1 tsp of sea salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste

1/3 cup  + 2 TBLSP of extra virgin olive oil

1 lb of spaghetti or angel hair pasta

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Put a very large pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

Toss cut cauliflower (except for the 1/4 cup of small pieces) with 2 TBLSP of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and a turn or two of pepper from a pepper mill and put them on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment, or into a large cast iron skillet and put into the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the cauliflower bits, garlic clove, basil, cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the Cuisinart and whir it all up until it is smooth.  (Stop and scrape down the sides if need be.)  When the pasta is cooked, drain it reserving about 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Return pasta to pot, add the pesto and the pasta water and stir until everything is all incorporated.  Put the pasta and pesto in a bowl and top with your roasted cauliflower.  Season to taste - and squeeze a little lemon on top if you like.

Everyone loved it tonight - and it was truly one of the best dinners we had in a long while.  (It's been a tough semester...)