Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut Pesto

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Is it Spring yet? I want to say yes, but I keep going outside in light jackets and freezing all day long.  It’s also that time of year when I feel like I can’t even look at another bowl of soup or stew, but all the spring goodies, like rhubarb, asparagus, and fresh peas aren’t quite in season yet. So while I wait for Spring to arrive, I’ll be inside making Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut Pesto.

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I think it’s the perfect transition-month vegetable side. Cauliflower is still everywhere, and homemade pesto gives plain roasted cauliflower more of a “spring” in its step. Since we are light years away from basil season, making pesto with flat leaf parsley felt more seasonally appropriate, and I used hazelnuts instead of pine nuts, because cauliflower and hazelnuts together are the best.

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After the pesto is finished, I like to add another handful of hazelnuts to the food processor so there are big chunks throughout. You don’t have to do this if you prefer a smoother pesto, but I love added crunch of hazelnuts. Depending on how generously you douse your cauliflower, you may have some pesto leftover. I highly recommend doing as my friends Louisa and Franklin did, and spreading any extra on toast and putting a fried egg on top.

Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnut Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, core removed and cut into bite size florets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbs hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic, (1 small clove)
  • 2/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 5 tbs grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the cauliflower in one layer on a sheet pan. Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is caramelized, tossing twice during baking.
  3. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Place 1/3 cup of the hazelnuts, the garlic, the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the mixture forms a thick paste, about 1 minute. Add the cheese and pulse until combined. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons hazelnuts and pulse until hazelnuts are roughly chopped.
  4. Spread pesto on a serving platter and spoon the cauliflower on top. Serve hot.