Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound medium shells

Good olive oil

2 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cut into small florets (1 large head)

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh sage leaves

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups freshly grated Italian Fontina Val d'Aosta cheese, lightly packed (10 ounces with rind)

1 cup (8 ounces) fresh ricotta

1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)

6 tablespoons freshly grated Italian Pecorino cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 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) saute pan over medium-high heat, add half the cauliflower in one layer, and saute 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 oil to the saute 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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