When I was growing up, my mom would often take on multiple jobs in order to send my brother and myself to good schools, and eventually to college … and somehow, at the end of every day, she would still manage to throw together a home cooked meal that we would all sit down to dinner at the table and enjoy together. My mom was the best cook I knew (aren’t all our moms) with a big love for vegetables, and would churn out things like escarole and beans, lentil soup, stuffed artichokes …. you know, some of my favorites still to this day.
Although in some ways that sounds idyllic, it wasn’t necessarily. Having a working mother definitely came with some prices and hardships. There were times when I wished my mom would be around more, or when she was around, that she wasn't stressed or worried about work. There were also many times I took those home cooked meals for granted. When you’re young, you just don’t know any better. I never realized how important those things would be in shaping who I am today, until I became a working adult myself. Witnessing my mom’s incredible work ethic, and tenacity to create the best life for her children, taught me so much about the kind of person I strive to be today.
I am forever grateful for the education my mom provided for me, for being able to send me to a university to study art and photography. For putting our schooling over everything else. But most of all, for instilling in me a love for food, a passion for home cooked meals, and for gathering friends and family around a table.
I was thrilled when SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix asked me to participate in their campaign which is all about gratitude, because I think it is good to be reminded and be able to reflect upon the people and things that have shaped us into who we are now. The things we are most grateful for in our lives, whatever or whoever that may be. To kick off this campaign, they're sharing this video with LA chef Nick Liberato and his surprise story of gratitude for his former boss (you can watch this wonderful story and video below).
Food really is #theotherlovelanguage and is the best way to show gratitude, so to show my gratitude to my mom, as well as to the first days of spring, I am sharing this minty pea pesto pasta with roasted cauliflower. The perfect kind of meal to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring, and also because pesto and pasta were favorites in our house growing up.
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower
For the cauliflower:
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and then thinly sliced
salt + pepper
For the minty pea pesto:
1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
5 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
the squeeze of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
For the pasta:
10-12oz of short pasta (fusilli, penne, cavatelli) – if making this gluten free, I love the Jovial brand brown rice pasta
1 tablespoon of sea salt (for the pasta water)
Pre-heat the oven to 400º. Place the cauliflower onto a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle and toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top.
Meanwhile, make the pea pesto. Place all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil in to the Vitamix or high powered blender. Pulse a few times, and then add in the olive oil in a slow stream while the blender is running. Do this until you have your desired consistency. I like to keep the pesto on the chunky side.
Boil the pasta. Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to it’s instructions. Strain.
Assemble the dish. In a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta, and then add all of the pesto on top and stir to incorporate. Add the cauliflower on top, and any other toppings you like and then serve.