Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers and Walnut Pesto
- TOTAL TIME: 40 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.