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Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers and Walnut Pesto

This vegetable-loaded pasta is equally delicious warm or cold. Jerry Traunfeld created it with the Eastern Mediterranean staples of cauliflower and bell peppers, which taste great together, especially when tossed in a garlicky walnut pesto.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound strozzapreti or orecchiette
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets (about 4 cups)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 2-by-1/4-inch strips
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-by-1/4-inch strips
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, parsley, walnuts and garlic until finely chopped. Add 6 tablespoons of the oil and process until smooth. Season with salt.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the cauliflower and season with salt. Cook over moderately high heat until browned in spots, 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until tender and brown in spots, 5 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl.
  4. Add the pasta, pesto and the reserved pasta water to the vegetables; toss until the pasta is coated. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into warm bowls and serve.


One serving 494 cal, 49 gm carb, 29 gm fat, 3.7 gm sat fat, 12 gm protein, 4 gm fiber.

Suggested Pairing

This nutty pasta dish needs a fairly substantial white wine to go with it (true of pastas with pesto in general). A Chardonnay with some oak aging will work, as oak's vanilla and spice notes go well with nuts.

Contributed By Photo © Petrina Tinslay Published September 2008

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