This recipe is a great way to celebrate cauliflower! It's first sautéed in a hot pan, then combined with cooked pasta shells, fresh sage, a hint of lemon, and lots of cheese with a crunchy topping. Easy and delicious! Can be assembled up to 24 hours prior to baking, keep covered in the refrigerator.
3/4 lb. small shell pasta (such as Barilla)
Olive oil (about 1/2 cup total)
large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
3 T. fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 T. capers
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 c. grated Fontina cheese (I used Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggio Shredded Cheese Blend)
8 oz. ricotta
1/4 c. creme fraiche
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
6 T. freshly grated Parmesan
3 T. parsley, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Fill a large saucepan with water, add 2 T. kosher salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes (or according to package instructions). Drain and put in a large bowl. Add 3 T. olive oil and stir. Set aside.
For the cauliflower, heat 3 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower in one layer and saute for 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Pour into the bowl with the pasta. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix well. Stir in the 2 cups of grated Fontina cheese. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10x13x2-inch rectangular baking dish. Mix the ricotta and creme fraiche in a small bowl, then spoon it over the pasta mixture, spreading somewhat evenly. Then add the rest of the pasta/cauliflower mixture on top.
Combine the panko, Parmesan, parsley and 1-2 T. olive oil in a small bowl, and sprinkle it evenly on top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes.
– Based on a recipe by Ina Garten