Spaghetti With Cauliflower & Green Olive Pesto


One of my favorite meals to prepare on a busy weeknight has to be pasta. There are an unlimited number of quick and easy sauces that you can create while the pasta cooks and by using whole grain pasta with a vegetable rich sauce you have a tasty, healthy meal in a bowl. We are thrilled that a Trader Joe’s store opened up close to us here in Florida, and after hearing a number of good things about their high fiber and whole grain pastas, we bought both to give them a try. The high fiber pasta we chose for this recipe was spaghetti, and we found it had a really good texture and worked perfectly in this dish. The only complaint I had about the spaghetti, was that the strands were very thin and it was more of a spaghettini rather than a true spaghetti.

Cauliflower and green olives are the two main ingredients in this sauce, and since cauliflower can be a little mild flavored, make sure you choose really briny, flavorful green olives. I’ve made this recipe twice so far, and the first time I simply chopped the olives together with the garlic, capers and parsley which worked out fine. The send time however, I threw the olives, garlic, and parsley into a mini food processor and blended the ingredients with a little olive oil to make more of a coarse pesto like sauce and liked the way the sauce clung to the strands of pasta better, so I am posting the recipe using that method. Toasted sliced almonds are used as a crunchy garnish along with a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano cheese just before serving.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2012

Spaghetti With Cauliflower & Green Olive Pesto

An easy to assemble quick pasta dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2 to 2 1/2 Pound) Head Cauliflower, Cored & Cut Into 1 Inch Pieces
  • 1 1/2 Cups Pitted, Brine Cured Green Olives
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil Plus 3 Teaspoons
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers, Drained
  • 3 Large Cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3/4 Pound Whole Grain or High Fiber Spaghetti

To Serve:

  • 3/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Sliced Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Directions:

  1. Place a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the 3 teaspoons of olive oil and cut the cauliflower over medium low heat for about 6 minutes or until it begins to color.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of water to the cauliflower along with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the cauliflower is tender and the water is absorbed.
  4. In a food processor, pulse together the olives, capers, garlic, and parsley until very coarsely blended.
  5. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil and pulse briefly. (You want a chunky sauce, not a smooth one)
  6. Cook the pasta following instructions on the pasta until it is a little under done.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  8. Stir the olive mixture into the cauliflower, add the pasta and stir over high heat, adding as much of the reserved pasta water as is needed to coat the pasta.
  9. Divide the pasta between four pasta bowls, and top with the toasted sliced almonds and grated Pecorino cheese.
  10. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Gourmet magazine, January 2007