Thursday, February 21, 2013

Family Dinner: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

Look out, here comes another Smitten Kitchen recipe review!!

In keeping with my goal of having family dinners, I opened up the Smitten Kitchen cookbook and browsed for an easy recipe.  I settled on Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto, sounds good right? A twist from regular pesto but with the known ease of a pasta dish. Plus, cauliflower is somewhat of an "it" veggie right now, so it's kinda a trendy dish!

Overall I would give this recipe a 7 out of 10.  The best thing about the dish is the quickness with which you can make it. All in all it took about 30 minutes including boiling the pasta.  Another positive is the small number of ingredients it calls for, most of which I had in my cupboard already. 

While the pasta tasted good . . . it wasn't great.  When making the sauce you grind the ingredients, including raw cauliflower, in a food processor.  The sauce is then placed on freshly cooked pasta allowing the cauliflower to steam a bit.  My cauliflower still seemed quite raw so perhaps I didn't steam it enough. It also was a bit under seasoned, nothing a little black pepper couldn't take care of, but still it lacked a overall punch.  The recipe made a large amount of pasta, so when I reheated it for lunch the next day it actually tasted better, perhaps the cauliflower had a chance to cook a bit more.

I would recommend trying this dish if you are a fan of quick meals, or if you love cauliflower, but if you're looking for a true pesto taste stick with a basil based sauce!

Below is the recipe posted by the Washington Post, a close adaption of the original Smitten Kitchen recipe:


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 to 8 ounces dried linguine or fine (thinner) linguine
  • 1 small (13-ounce) head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds (may substitute pine nuts)
  • 2 or 3 dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1-ounce chunk pecorino Romano cheese (may substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • About 8 flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, or more to taste



Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the linguine (allowing 2 ounces per serving). Cook according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into chunks, placing them in the food processor as you work. Pulse to form couscous-like crumbs; transfer to a mixing bowl.

Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking them as needed to avoid scorching. Cool, then place in the food processor. 

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, then transfer to the food processor. Coarsely chop the cheese and add to the food processor, along with the garlic, capers and parsley. Pulse to form a coarse bread-crumb consistency, then add the mixture to the cauliflower in the bowl, along with the crushed red pepper flakes.

Stir in the oil, 2 teaspoons of the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to form a pesto like mixture. The yield is about 3 3/4 cups.

Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly, then add as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to create the desired consistency. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar as needed.
Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls. Serve right away.


  1. I wonder if would have had more flavor had you roasted the cauliflower... I love roasted cauliflower, brings out a lot of flavor... just a thought.

    1. Great idea! I think that would help alot, the "steaming" of the cauliflower left a lot of flavor potential on the table. I think I'll try again using the roasting technique, I'll let you know how it turns out!

  2. I love cauliflower and am always in desperate need of a quick meal, so I think I will give this one a try... thanks! :-)