Pesto Pasta with Cauliflower and Peas
for the pesto:
2 cups freshly picked basil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 to 3/4 cup good olive oil (I am using a California-grown olive oil I get at Sam's.. its spectacular!)
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
In a small chopper or food processor, run the basil leaves with the garlic and the 1/2 cup oil until smooth-- you may need to add more oil if it looks too dry. Add the cheese and pulse again until it looks combined and thick, sauce-like. Stir in salt, pepper to taste and nutmeg . Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate till needed.
1 package pasta (about 1 lb)
1 cup frozen peas
1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
Bring the water in a large pot to a rolling boil. The key to perfectly cooked pasta is a LARGE pot and at least 6 cups of water to 1 lb pasta, otherwise it gets gummy. Make sure the water is boiling furiously (ALWAYS bring water to a boil with the lid on--its tons faster) Add a small handful (yes, I said handful) of kosher salt. Now add the pasta and stir. bring back up to a boil and add the peas. Let this cook for half the recommended cooking time, and add the cauliflower. Let it boil again, and until, the pasta is al-dente. Drain, saving about a cup of the pasta-cooking water, and put back in the pot, or in a large bowl.
Now, add your pesto to the hot pasta and stir gently to combine. If it looks too dry, add some pasta water to it. But it should not be swimming in liquid, just glistening.
Serve with more parmesan and hot red pepper flakes if you like.
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