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Does this happen to you too? A few days have passed since you went to the market and your refrigerator is nearly empty. But you have to go to town tomorrow anyway and don't want to make a special trip. That was me yesterday.
I'd resolved to Frankenstein something together and wasn't feeling very excited about it. I was about to turn to our standard Pasta Aglio e Olio (which we love!), but instead I decided to page through a favorite cookbook of mine, having exactly zero faith that inspiration would strike. I was wrong.
Page 140 of Cooking for Friends saved the day. It went like this in my head: "Mmm, that looks good. Huh, I do have cauliflower, and parsley, garlic and capers; no almonds (mmm Almond Pesto), but I have hazelnuts; and I have Parmesan cheese!" In about half an hour we were gobbling it up, complete with satisfied sighs. Maybe next time, Frankenstein.
Bucatini with Charred Cauliflower and Hazelnut Pesto
- 6 ounces dry bucatini or other long pasta like spaghetti or linguini
- ½ head cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 clove small garlic
- ½ cup fresh Italian parsley
- 2 ounces toasted hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon capers (I use salt packed that I rinsed - if you have brined, drain before adding.)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
- Heat a stovetop grill pan (or grill pan on the BBQ) over high heat until hot. Add cauliflower and cook, turning often, until lightly charred on all sides, 6 or 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, with food processor running, add garlic and parsley to mince. Scrape down sides of bowl and add hazelnuts and capers; pulse until finely chopped. Add charred cauliflower and olive oil; pulse until coarsely chopped.
- In a serving bowl, toss drained pasta, ¼ cup reserved cooking water and cauliflower mixture until thoroughly combined. Add more cooking water to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.