Organic cauliflower is available year round, it stores well, and is one of my favorite vegetables to have on hand for winter recipes. This is a warming winter salad that works well as a side dish or as a vegan main course. Roasting the cauliflower lends it a sweeter, somewhat nutty flavor that is intensified by tossing it while oven-warm with the toasted walnut pesto. It really soaks up the flavors.
I like this spicy so I add in a good amount of Aleppo pepper, but it works well with smaller amounts or with none at all. If you use regular crushed red pepper you will get the same heat, but less fruity flavor.
- 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of one lemon, plus about a teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Aleppo pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, to lightly coat each floret (the amount of oil will depend on the size of your cauliflower). Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet with a rim, and bake for 20-30 minutes, turning the florets midway through the baking times, until the cauliflower is tender and has some browned spots.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, place your walnuts in a dry skillet and toast them over medium heat, stirring frequently. As soon as the walnuts begin to glisten and smell toasty, remove them from the heat.
- In a food processor or blender, pulse the toasted walnuts with the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and Aleppo pepper. You want a chunky sauce that still has some visible pieces of walnut.
- Toss the warm, roasted cauliflower with the walnut sauce and with the lemon zest. Taste to adjust the seasoning. This is best served warm, but is also good at room temperature.
If you don’t have the time for roasting, the sauce is quick to put together and works well with steamed cauliflower or broccoli. The roasting adds depth of flavor, but on a busy night I am happy to use a faster cooking method. It probably sounds odd, but this is also good with the addition of a few golden raisins tossed in right at the end.
I am heading into a busy new semester, so I will be posting more “quick” recipe ideas in the upcoming weeks–and I will be struggling a little more to eat healthy meals all of the time, so I need all of the quick, healthy stuff I can manage. In particular, I am trying to develop some healthy, whole-food lunch ideas that do not need to be heated (and if you have suggestions, I would love to hear them!).
Thanks for reading,