Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower – Super Delicious Flavors Together

November 27, 2018

Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower – Super Delicious Flavors Together

Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower

A warm, comforting recipe with a cheesy, tangy twist. Even if you are not a cauliflower fan, just give it a try and you won't be disappointed. 

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Author Lewis Grant


  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound medium shell such as Barilla
  • olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pound cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp capers drained
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups freshly grated Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese lightly packed (10 ounces with rind)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 6 tbsp freshly grated Italian Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°

  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta. Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.

  4. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully. Stir in the Fontina. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish. Spoon rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. Combine the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.


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