Cauliflower Slabs with Basil Pesto | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Cauliflower Slabs with Basil Pesto

Cauliflower Slabs with Basil Pesto

Serves 6-8

45 min

1 hr

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Every year my mother, Toby Marcus, fries cauliflower dipped in egg and matzoh meal to create a crunchy side dish. This recipe is lighter and healthier, although I always hope that my mother will make the fried version for me. The idea here is to cut large slices of the cauliflower head and then use any crumbs that fall off in the pesto topping.

Reprinted with permission from New Passover Menu © 2015 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Michael Bennett Kress




Cutting board


Measuring cups and spoons

Jelly roll or large shallow

Roasting pan

Food processor or blender

Silicone spatula


4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 large head (or 2 small ones) cauliflower

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper

For the PESTO:

1 cup cauliflower “crumbs,” collected after slicing the head

12 large basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

2/3 cup (160ml) extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper

To make the cauliflower


Advance prep: May be made 2 days in advance

  1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. LINE a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil or use a large shallow roasting pan. Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil onto the pan and spread it around to cover the bottom.
  3. REMOVE the outer green leaves from the cauliflower. Rinse well and trim off any dirty spots. Using a long, sharp knife, slice the head in half from stem to top of the head. Cut 3/4-inch thick (2-cm) slices, from the top of the head to the stem end, and place them on the pan, one at a time. Some of the pieces that fall off onto the cutting board will stay intact, but the smaller pieces may crumble. Place any pieces that are 1-inch (2.5-cm) or larger on the pan, along with the cauliflower slices. Pick out the smaller cauliflower pieces (you should have about 1 cup) and place them in the bowl of a food processor.
  4. DRIZZLE the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the cauliflower on the pan. Sprinkle with the salt and season with pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes.

To make the pesto:

  1. MEANWHILE, add the basil, garlic, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper to the cauliflower pieces in the processor bowl. Process until the cauliflower and basil are finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly pour the olive oil into the processor bowl. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down any pieces that are stuck to the sides of the bowl.
  2. AFTER THE CAULIFLOWER HAS COOKED for 15 minutes and is a little browned, spread the pesto on top of the slabs. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until fork-tender.