Crusty baked shells and cauliflower recipe


  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ lb medium shells, such as Barilla
  • Good olive oil
  • 2½ lbs cauliflower, cut into small florets (1 large head)
  • 3 Tbsp roughly chopped sage leaves
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups freshly grated Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, lightly packed (10 oz with rind)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) fresh ricotta
  • ½ cup panko
  • 6 Tbsp freshly grated Italian pecorino cheese
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley leaves
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. 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.) Drain and pour into a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large 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.
  3. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, 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 9-by-13-inch 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 warm.

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