People have gotten seriously inventive with cauliflower — hello, pizza crusts, steaks, and even mashed cauliflower in lieu of mashed potatoes — and I'm here for it. If you regularly cook with heads of this trendy vegetable, however, you've probably found yourself throwing away its leaves. No more! This cauliflower pesto recipe featured in the Amy Lacey's new book Cali'flour Kitchen: 125 Cauliflower-Based Recipes for the Carbs You Crave finally finds purpose for the often-ignored, nutrient-packed part of the veggie.
Author Amy Lacey dove headfirst into cauliflower creations after being diagnosed with lupus in 2010. By swapping the veg into some of her favorite dishes, she found that she was able to combat a host of autoimmune symptoms. Today, she runs Cali'flour Foods, a national brand that offers various low-carb, grain-free cauliflower products. Cali'flour Kitchen ($14, Amazon), is the result of hours spent tinkering in the kitchen, finding ways to indulge in her favorite dishes without compromising her own health. "Cauliflower substitutes are here to stay," Lacey explained in press release for the book. "People who can't tolerate certain foods love being able to recreate their favorite dishes like pizza or mashed potatoes using a vegetable that's actually good for them."
As you can imagine, all this time spent experimenting with cauliflower for the cookbook resulted in a lot of leftover leaves. That's when one of Lacey's Cali'flour testers, Katie Eyles, brilliantly concocted this flavorful sauce recipe – a delicious and resourceful variation to traditional pestos.
Aside from the most obvious benefit, which is getting your money's worth on that head of cauliflower by using every single part of it, cauliflower leaves also pack an impressive nutritional punch. "Cauliflower leaves are one of the richest sources of calcium in vegetables and therefore can serve as a great alternative for vegans or people who avoid dairy," Carlyn Rosenblum MS, RD, and founder of perinatal nutrition concierge service MTHR Nutrition, tells Romper. "Cauliflower leaves are a good source of fiber, which supports improved digestion, blood sugar balance, and cholesterol reduction. They also contain a fair amount of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and folate, all of which support a healthy immune system." In other words, slather this cauliflower leaf pesto on your favorite noodles or a hefty sandwich... it's good for you!
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup (35 g) pine nuts
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 1/4 cup (25 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup (10 g) cauliflower leaves (just the green parts)
- 1 1/2 cups (60 g) packed fresh basil leaves and tender stems
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves and tender stems
- 6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- In a food processor with the motor running, drop the garlic through the hole in the top to mince.
- Add the pine nuts, salt, and pepper and process until coarsely ground.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, cauliflower leaves, basil, and parsley and process to mince the greens.
- With the motor still running, drizzle in the oil through the hole in the top to incorporate. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water.
- Transfer to a container, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Gone are the days when eating all your veggies was a chore. Thanks to the resourcefulness of veggie pioneers like Amy Lacey, there's a way to turn any veggie into something that feels like an absolute treat.
Excerpted from Cali’flour Kitchen: 125 Cauliflower-Based Recipes for the Carbs You Crave by Amy Lacey (Abrams, January 2019, ISBN: 978-1-4197-3596-7, $19.99)