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by on July 27th, 2011

Pesto Cauliflower with Arugula Salad

No boring cauliflower taste here.

A side dish or salad? You decide how you want to serve it.

I’ve really never been a cauliflower fan and it’s one of those vegetables and have to talk myself into buying because I know it is good for me. Not even a fan of raw cauliflower on a veggie tray even though I know it is going to get dipped into something really good.

I would like to learn to add the white flowery head to my vegetable repertoire especially since I’ve, for the time being, taken potatoes off the table. Cauliflower can actually be made into mashed potatoes by steaming or boiling it and mashing as if it were a potato. The mashed cauliflower is great when folded in with some mashed green peas. Beautiful combination.

In case you are trying to talk yourself out of trying this recipe, remember that cauliflower is one of the cancer fighting vegetables, is full of Vitamin C, low fat and high in fiber. Now, did that change your mind?

When I first thought about doing this Pesto Cauliflower I was thinking of it as a vegetable side dish to some wonderful entree. I had planned on serving it next to a dressed arugula salad but at the last minute decided to tossed some baby arugula with a balsamic dressing and put the roasted pesto cauliflower on top of the arugula, add a few sprinkles of pine nuts and some crumbled baked proscuitto and it was Mama Mia delicious.  I loved the cold texture of the arugula with the warm cauliflower on top. Hot/cold but yummy together.

Roasting the cauliflower in this recipe retains more of the vitamins than boiling the vegetable. I made this two nights this week, once roasted and once steamed.

Break cauliflower into tiny florets.

Simple ingredients for the pesto.

Beautiful.

Baked crumbled proscuitto for garnish.

Roast or steam your cauliflower until tender but not overcooked.

Pesto Cauliflower with Toasted Pine Nuts

Pesto (see ingredients below)
1/2-1 head cauliflower
1/3 c. pine nuts, toasted (+what is needed for pesto)
arugula salad, optional
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Proscuitto, baked and crumbled*

Roast or steam the cauliflower.* When crisp tender, toss with some of the pesto. Add in the toasted pine nuts and garnish with Parmesan cheese and some crumbled baked proscuitto (optional). Mine is served atop arugula which is tossed with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can make it with or without the arugula.

Easy Pesto

2 c. packed basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 c. pine nuts
2/3 c. olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the pesto put the garlic, 2 cups basil and pine nuts in food processor and process until finely chopped up.  Drizzle in 1/2 cup olive and process until pesto is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately stir in the remaining oil and add the Parmesan cheese. If freezing, put the pesto in freezer safe container and drizzle the remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months.

*Roasting cauliflower –Preheat oven to 400°. Cut cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Toss in the garlic and drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place dish uncovered in hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until top is lightly brown.  Test with a fork for doneness. The tines of fork should easily be able to pierce the cauliflower. Remove from oven and toss with some of the pesto and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

If steaming — steam until cauliflower is tender and then toss with pesto and pine nuts.

*If using the proscuitto, put the thin slices on a cookie sheet and bake at about 300° until crisp, cool and crumble.

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