Spaghetti with cauliflower pesto and sun-dried tomatoes

cooked pasta with pesto in large bowl

Vegetarian eating at its best, this is easy to make and so satisfying! 


  • 1/2 pound (230g) cauliflower florets (from about 1/2 medium cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup (40g) pine nuts
  • 1 oz (30g) Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • about 1/3 cup of fresh parsley leaves
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes (preserved in oil), finely chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) sun-dried tomato oil (from the jar), more to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 7oz (200g) spaghetti, or linguine or similar
  • sea salt
  • fresh lemon zest, for serving 


  1. First make the pesto: In your food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it resembles crumbs. Transfer it to a medium bowl. Next combine pine nuts, Parmesan and parsley in the food processor and pulse, until they look like breadcrumbs too. Add to your cauliflower.
  2. Add sun-dried tomatoes, oil, garlic clove and lemon juice to the cauliflower mix. Stir until combined, season to taste and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (add 2 minutes to that, if you want your pasta to have less bite to it)., about 8-10 minutes. Save a cup of pasta water and drain the rest. 
  4. Return your pasta back to its pot (or to a large bowl) and add the pesto. Stir to combine. Start adding pasta water tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring inbetween, until pesto evenly coats all of the pasta and looks creamy. Add more cheese if you want. 
  5. Serve into bowls or plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and fresh lemon zest. 


For deeper, nuttier flavor toast the pine nuts before you use them in the pesto. The easiest way to toast pine nuts is in a pan without any oil, set over high heat for 30-90 seconds, just until they brown. 

About Parmesan: Know that real Parmigiano-Reggiano isn’t really vegetarian. For a cheese to be sold under such name it has to be authentic, and it is only authentic if it uses calf rennet as an ingredient crucial for the production. Obviously that makes it non-vegetarian. Both Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano use rennet as well. If you want rennet-free cheese, look at the label first. Luckily you can find plenty of Parmesan-style hard cheeses that are made without it. 

TO MAKE VEGAN: Use more nuts in place of cheese or use vegan parmesan. I keep hearing great things about Violife parmesan, so try looking for that! 

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook. 


Keywords: quick