Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Cauliflower with Zesty Walnut Pesto

Cauliflower with Zesty Walnut Pesto

Cauliflower is an amazingly versatile vegetable, thanks to its mild taste. Think of it as a healthy base for your favorite sauces. I like to dress it up with this Southwestern-style pesto. Any leftovers make a great cold lunch the next day!


  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried, and stemmed 
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup unsalted walnuts, toasted 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse kosher or sea salt, plus more to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cotija or queso fresco 
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored and separated into florets 


Step 1

Preheat your oven to 400°F and make the pesto while you’re waiting for it to come up to temperature. In the bowl of a small food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, nuts, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Pulse several times. While the machine is running, gradually add 1/4 cup of olive oil through the lid and process until the mixture is fairly smooth, adding additional oil, one tablespoon at a time, as needed for a creamy consistency. Add the cheese and process for a few seconds more. Add more salt and pepper to taste. 

Step 2

Spread the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Use two baking sheets if necessary to avoid crowding. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower, turning once with a spatula, until lightly brown and tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. When done, transfer to a large bowl, top with several spoonfuls of the pesto, and use a spatula to coat the florets. Serve immediately. 

Yields 6 side servings or 4 main dishes