Changing cauliflower to “couscous”

When you whirl cauliflower in a food processor long enough, it becomes tiny bits that resemble couscous (ground semolina pasta). A shopper at the farmers’ market (thanks, Nancy O.) cooks the cauliflower bits in a pan for a moment, then uses them like a grain. I could see topping the minced cauliflower with a cheesy sauce, fresh tomatoes, toasted sesame oil, marinated vegetables, or many other possibilities.

I talked up this ground cauliflower idea and heard about a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that uses cauliflower bits in a different way. Here’s my adaptation.

Cauliflower with pesto and spaghetti

  • Cauliflower, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Garlic cloves
  • Toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Pitted green olives
  • Red chile flakes or minced jalapeño (optional)
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Whole-wheat spaghetti or linguine
  • Toasted breadcrumbs (optional)
  1. Whirl cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles small beads. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Whirl basil, garlic, nuts, tomatoes, olive oil, olives, and chile flakes and cheese, if using, in the food processor until the mixture is the consistency and flavor you like. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, reserving some cooking liquid. Keep spaghetti warm.
  4. Add pesto to cauliflower, adding enough pasta cooking liquid to mix the pesto into the cauliflower.
  5. Mix the spaghetti and cauliflower pesto together and transfer to a large serving bowl or serve spaghetti in individual bowls and pass the cauliflower pesto at the table. Top with breadcrumbs and more pine nuts and/or shredded parmesan.
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5 thoughts on “Changing cauliflower to “couscous”

  1. Love it. We adore cauliflower. I also sliced the head into “steaks”, rubbed them with a mixture of herbs, olive oil, roasted garlic & fresh Parmesan, then roast them in the oven. Not exactly sure at what temp…. Yum!

    • I’ve roasted cauliflower before (and love it), but hadn’t thought of doing it like that. What a great idea to make herby, garlicky, cheesy steaks. Just last night I roasted broccoli florets and halved small artichokes. There’s something about roasted vegetables—they are always a tasty treat to me.

  2. we mash cooked cauliflower all the time – great mashed potatoe substitute – never thought of doing either of the things you two are talking about but will try it soon

  3. Never thought there could be so many tempting recipes with raw cauliflower… will try them, and also the cooked mashed cauliflower as substitute for mashed potatoes!

  4. Pingback: The magic vegetable | Veghead, etc.

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