Yesterday's lunch was based on a vegetable that is often considered a wintertime staple: cauliflower. I only bought a cauliflower last weekend because it was too beautiful to pass up when I went shopping at Terre Y Fruits. You can see it here. I don't know why it occurred to me that it might be good with pesto. Then I did some searching on the 'net and, as usual, I found many recipes for just such a dish in English as well as in French.
The first step in my version of cauliflower with pesto was to cut the florets apart and then cook them in a steamer pot until they were just starting to get tender but retained a little crunch. When I cut up a cauliflower, I save and cook both the tender parts of the plant's stem, cutting away the fibrous "skin", and I also trim up, save, and cook the green leaves that envelop the head of chou-fleur (including their thick, fleshy ribs) if they are not wilted or damaged — in other words, if the leaves look appetizing. They're cabbage, after all.
The second step was to cook some pasta. Pasta is optional, but wanted to cook some with the cauliflower. We had some mini-bowties (mini-farfalle). I cooked them in boiling water and let them cool down. Save some of the pasta water and use it, hot, to thin the pesto with you mix it with the vegetables and pasta. I let the cauliflower cool down too. I was going to reheat everything anyway. When the time came, I panned the cauliflower florets and leaves with the pasta in olive oil.
We had the makings for pesto in the fridge and freezer. This happens to be radish-leaf pesto, but it could well have been pesto made with basil, kale, or chard leaves. The other ingredients are olive oil, garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese, along with some powdered hazelnuts for flavor and consistency. You can make delicious pesto with powdered hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts (which are very expensive).
Put the pesto in the bottom of the bowl you're going to serve the mixture in. Spoon in the reheated cauliflower and pasta. Stir and toss everything together to melt the Parmesan. If the pesto needs a little liquid, add some or the hot water that the pasta cooked in. Serve immediately.
Since this was a meatless lunchtime dish, we had an appetizer of pâté de campagne. I had bought it at Terre Y Fruits. It's local, from the Berry near Buzançais and Châteauroux.
And as a combination salad and cheese course, we had tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.