Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: You can make this ahead, cover and refrigerate; bake before serving. Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs that are bigger and lighter than the traditional crumb, which could be used. From "Cooking for Jeffrey," by Ina Garten.
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3/4 lb. medium pasta shells
• Good olive oil
• 2 1/2 lb. cauliflower, cut into small florets (1 large head)
• 3 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
• 2 tbsp. capers, drained
• 1 tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
• 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
• 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 c. freshly grated Fontina cheese, lightly packed (10 oz. with rind)
• 1 c. (8 oz.) fresh ricotta
• 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs (see Note)
• 6 tbsp. freshly grated Pecorino cheese
• 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Fill large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook al dente, according to instructions on the package. Since it will be baked later, don't overcook it! Drain and pour into very large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium-high heat, adding half the cauliflower in 1 layer, and saute for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until florets are lightly browned and tender. Pour cauliflower, including the small bits, into bowl with the pasta. Add 3 more tablespoons oil to sauté pan, add remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender, and add to the bowl.
Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to bowl and stir carefully. Stir in the Fontina.
Transfer half the mixture into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spoon rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top.
Combine panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tablespoon olive oil in small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.