- 1 small head or Â˝ large head cauliflower (about 1 pound or 455 grams), trimmed of leaves, cored, and cut into large chunks
- 1 garlic clove
- Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
- Â˝ cup (70 grams) almonds or pine nuts, toasted and cooled
- 2-ounce (55-gram) chunk Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for passing
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes (dry variety; if oil-packed, be sure to drain them and mince them by hand separately, so the oil doesnâ€™t gum up the food-processor mixture, before you add them)
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- Few tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
- â…“ cup (80 ml) olive oil
- Â˝ to 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (to taste)
- 1 pound (455 grams) linguine
The results are alarmingly easy to whip up. You donâ€™t have to peel and mince garlic cloves and you donâ€™t have to chop almonds. The cauliflower is raw and stays that way.
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Pulse half the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like mixed sizes of couscous. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, and repeat with the second batch, adding it to the same bowl when you are finished. If your cauliflower looks like the perfect texture but one large chunk insists upon escaping the steel bladeâ€™s grasp, pick it out and pulse it separately. Youâ€™ll have about 3Â˝ cups of fluffy, delightful cauliflower-couscous crumbs.
- Pulse the garlic, pepper flakes, almonds, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and parsley in a food processor until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Transfer to the bowl with cauliflower, add the olive oil, the smaller amount of vinegar, and a few pinches of salt, and stir until combined. (If you do this step in the food processor, it becomes an unseemly paste. Best to do it by hand.) Taste and adjust seasoning as neededâ€”either adding more salt, pepper, or remainder of vinegar. I start with about Â˝ teaspoon salt but often go up to nearly a full teaspoon.
- Once water is boiling, add the linguine and cook until it is al dente (cooked, but with a tiny bite left). Reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower pesto and half of your reserved cooking water, until everything is nicely dispersed. If the pesto still feels too thick, loosen it with the remaining reserved cooking water. Divide among bowls, and pass with additional Parmesan cheese.