Andrew and Cara who made it the entire month!) Particularly when everyone around you is eating hot dogs and you LOVE hot dogs but you eat a veggie burger instead. Le sigh.
are lots of people who will happily get into the politics and morals of why you should or shouldn't eat meat, and for us it wasn't 100% an ethical thing, though our reasons were many: quality, ethically raised meat is expensive. It's not great for the planet. It's easy to eat too many calories if you're eating meat. In general, vegetables are lower in fat and higher in fiber. We are back to eating meat a couple of times a week, but we haven't set up strict guidelines. If you're not already, have you ever "gone veg" for a week or a month at a time? How'd you do? What surprised you?
I cooked out of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone a lot (those curried parsnips were a standout, as well as a mushroom pot pie that I really need to tell you about) and then we bought this weird green cauliflower. It must have been a hybrid brocco-flower type thing, because the florets weren't quite as compact as white cauliflower. I ignored the weirdness and adapted a pasta recipe from Gourmet, just in time for February's Gourmet Unbound. In the original, you are supposed to steam the florets but it was cold in my kitchen and I wanted to turn on the oven and roasted vegetable is almost always tastier than steamed vegetable... so I roasted it. I took a look at the parsley sauce and said, oh, that's basically a pesto without nuts and garlic. Since I had pine nuts and garlic, I incorporated those. And because raw garlic is often too sharp for my taste and I already had the oven on, I roasted a few cloves with the cauliflower before whizzing them into the sauce. Top the plate with a little snowstorm of parmesan cheese, or skip it if you're vegan.
Pasta with Parsley Sauce and Cauliflower
adapted from Gourmet, February 1993
2 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves
small handful pine nuts, toasted (about 1/3 cup)
2/3 cup olive oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, unpealed
1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch flowerets and the stems sliced thin
3/4 pound campanelle or rotelle pasta (something with a ruffly edge, please)
1 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped fine
salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 375 while you chop the cauliflower into florets. Toss florets and unpeeled garlic cloves with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon or so of salt, and a bit of pepper. Spread on a sheet pan (one with sides) and roast, stirring once or twice for 20-25 minutes until cauliflower is tender with some brown spots.
While the cauliflower roasts, wash the parsley and separate the leaves from the stems. (You can stick the stems in a freezer bag and freeze them for making stock later, if you're into that sort of thing.) Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently and taking them off the heat and out of the pan just when you start to smell them. Do not turn your back on pine nuts, because they go from toasty to charred in a matter of seconds and charred is burnt and burnt is bad. Grab the garlic cloves (use tongs) from the roasting pan in the oven after about 20 minutes, leave the cauliflower in for 5 more minutes if it's not done. Remove the skins, the cloves should be soft and squishy, if not entirely spreadable.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Start the pasta going when the cauliflower has about 10 minutes left, and cook just to al dente, then drain. Save a cup or so of the pasta-cooking water in case you need it to thin out the pesto.
For the parsley pesto, in a blender or food processor (or the tiny attachment to the stick blender, which is my new favorite kitchen toy), puree the parsley leaves, roasted garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Stop and scrape the sides, and if necessary add another glug of olive oil. Process again, until you have a pesto-like sauce.
To serve, toss pasta with parsley pesto, cauliflower and olives, top with parmesan cheese.