Cauliflower Leaves Pesto

Aug 12, 2013 | 4 comments


What do you do with your cauliflower leaves? I think they have a lot of flavour, like broccoli stalks, and tend to choose those first when we have something and veg. I usually cook them like the florets, DP has those, because he prefers them, and I have the leaves, because I prefer those. Same thing with broccoli. I also use cauli stalks in a cauliflower and paneer curry. And failing any of those, they go into the soup du jour.

cauliflower leaves pesto in a small transparent plastic pot

I apologise to any Italians reading this!

Strictly speaking, pesto is a generic term for anything that is made by pounding; that is why the word is used for several pestos in Italy. Nonetheless, pesto alla genovese (“Genoese pesto”) remains the most popular pesto in Italy and the rest of the world.

I have just finished the last of the Broccoli Pesto, it was still in the fridge, I never did get round to putting it in the freezer – I suppose at least it proves that it keeps well!

A fridge gravel pesto

Today I was wondering about using cauliflower in a pesto. Husband is always buying cauli’s, and yes, we had one in the fridge. So I had a rummage.

  • I got out the food processor and put in it,
  • 2 cauli florets well past their best, from the old one
  • most of the stalks and leaves from the new one
  • a couple of broccoli florets and a big bit of stalk that needed using up
  • 5 or 6 very old radishes that were desperate to be used up
  • the zest and juice of half a lemon
  • half a dozen salted peanuts from the bottom of a bag, using it up
  • a few more than that of salted cashews from the bottom of a bag, using it up
  • a big handful of flaked almonds
  • half a dozen or so of whole almonds from the bottom of a bag, using it up
  • 2 very big basil sprigs
  • 1 of coriander
  • several top of the mint sprigs, all from the garden
  • 200ml veg oil
  • 100ml water
  • tsp sea salt
  • half tsp pepper

Cauliflower stalk pesto
Then I whizzed the whole lot until it was a fine mulch. Some of the herb sprig stalks were a bit tough, and wouldn’t whizz, but that was ok, I just picked them out. This made 9 little pots, each enough to dress pasta for 2. Although I have been using an entire pot when I have the Broccoli Pesto in a sandwich.

cauliflower leaves pesto in small pots

How much was it? With the rummaged ingredients, difficult to say, but it would be about the same as the broccoli one.
Husband decided to like it on principle because it had cauliflower in it. I, erm, might have forgotten to mention that most of the cauli was stalk 🙂

What are the essential ingredients of a pesto

After this experiment, I think the essential ingredients for this kind of pesto are a crisp vegetable, the herbs and citrus zest and juice and some kind of nuts

What other vegetables would work

  • how about carrot and radish, maybe with orange zest and juice and coriander and mint sprigs
  • or swede and parsnip (both raw) with thyme and rosemary, lemon for the citrus
  • hmmm, wonder if I could get a runner bean one to work? They are just about to spring into peak production.
  • The nuts could be anything at all I think and still make a delicious pesto, so cheapy peanuts spring to mind – they would go well with the carrot variation.

have a play and see what you come up with, you can always bung it in the soup if you don’t like it!

cauliflower leaves pesto


Vegan Broccoli Pesto

Wild Garlic Pesto


Things You May Never Need To Buy Again – Pesto




  1. Thrifty Lesley

    Heather – That sounds a lovely combination!

  2. Heather Mac

    I hate waste, so I tried your recipe without radishes, added a packet of pine nuts and a handful of cashews and all other ingredients for your pesto and it was lovely, froze some containers for the future too. Thanks

  3. Lesley

    Ok, will do. I’ll still read it tho if that’s alright

  4. ceridwen

    Just goes to show its possible to make pesto with virtually anything.

    I’ve been thinking further on finding that my online record for myself (ie ceriscooking) is featured on your blogroll and decided to ask for it to be removed please. I appreciate the compliment of you putting it on there, but it is not my intention to regard it as a public blog. Thanks.

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