Shells & Roasted Cauliflower

This surprisingly sweet & savory pasta is one of my favorite easy cauliflower recipes. Try it once, and it'll stay in your weeknight dinner rotation.

Shells & Roasted Cauliflower

Currently, in Austin, SO many restaurants are opening all the time and our list of to-try places is growing at a rapid pace. It’s a fun problem to have. Our little city is hot on the food map, but sadly, some of our old favorite little go-to spots are closing. One in particular was a little wine bar called Mulberry. It was a tiny place with a big marble slab of a bar. The wine was good, the vibe was cozy, and the food was everything you wanted to eat on a Friday night without having to make a reservation or wait two hours in line.

The menu would change often, but one dish that I ordered for a few weeks in a row was roasted cauliflower with herbs, pine nuts, golden raisins, and capers – a combination that was deliciously tangy, savory, and a little bit sweet. It’s unlike any of my other cauliflower recipes, so I recreated that combo at home a number of times – this time I tossed it with whole wheat shells to make it more of a full meal to share here.

Ingredients for cauliflower recipe Swiss chard in a colander for easy cauliflower recipe

The day I shot this roasted cauliflower pasta, I happened to have some A+ vegetables from the farmers market – adorable orange cauliflower and these gorgeous tatsoi greens. Since then I’ve been making it with regular cauliflower and baby spinach, which works equally well.

It’s tossed with olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a little sambal for spice. This is a pretty easy, fuss-free recipe that we’ve really been enjoying lately, and I hope you do too!

Shells & Roasted Cauliflower recipe

For more of my favorite weeknight cauliflower recipes, try this roasted cauliflower soup, this cauliflower salad, or this curry!

Note: unless you’re making a half recipe, use a larger pan than is pictured in the photo at the top of this post.

5.0 from 12 reviews

Shells & Roasted Cauliflower

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This roasted cauliflower pasta is one of my favorite easy cauliflower recipes! Golden raisins and capers add great salty/sweet flavor to this dish.
Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 3-4
  • 4 to 5 cups small cauliflower florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon vegan or regular butter
  • 1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup or honey* (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon sambal or red pepper flakes
  • 6 ounces shell pasta
  • ¾ cup reserved pasta water (save this before you drain your pasta)
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 4 cups spinach, tatsoi, or swiss chard leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
  • 1 heaping tablespoon golden raisins
  • ½ cup loose-packed chopped parsley, basil, or tarragon
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower florets on the sheet and toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and sambal and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Reserve ¾ cup pasta water before you drain the pasta. If you like, drizzle the pasta with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter. Add the shallot, smashed garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallot is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves.
  5. Stir the greens into the pan and cook until lightly wilted. Add the pasta, roasted cauliflower, and vinegar mixture and stir to coat. Stir in ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta water to create a light sauce. Add the hazelnuts, raisins, and parsley.
  6. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional sambal, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.
To make this vegan, don't use honey.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Joe

    In the picture I see little clumps of red, looks like a sauce or sun-dried tomatoes, but nothing in the ingredients like that. Could you please let me know?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Joe, it’s the sambal paste, but sun dried tomatoes would be good too.

  2. Victoria

    Just wondering why the recipe references capers in the description but no capers in the list of ingredients? I’m making this for dinner tonight and not sure if I should add or not and amount if yes? Thanks.
    Love every recipe I have made from your site thus far; thanks for sharing so many great recipes.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Victoria, it’s a mistake, thanks for pointing that out! I added about 1 tablespoon capers here, or if you don’t have any you could skip them.

      • Victoria

        NP. Thanks. I had decided to add 1 tbsp, same as raisins and happy I did. Lovely flavour. Hubby says it’s a keeper! 😊

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          I’m glad you loved it!

  3. Kate

    Wow! We made this up with a few necessary substitutions to keep from running to the store and it was absolutely outstanding. A quick and delicious meal. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Kate, I’m so glad you loved the pasta!

  4. Kelly Baca

    Amazing. Just made. Doubled the pasta and the vinegar sauce. Used two bunches of Swiss chard and pine nuts.

  5. Maria

    Love this recipe. I had to make a couple of substitutions because it was the end of the week. I made the dish with spinach fusilli and I had a yellow bell pepper and sweet onion. The sauce was excellent …it made the dish and the sicilian touch of golden raisins, walnuts and lemon made a nice finish. I love your recipes!! Thank you

  6. Susan

    how many calories is it ?

  7. AJ

    My husband and I made this last night and LOVED it! I almost didn’t add the raisins, but I’m sure glad I did! The unexpected sweetness in some of the bites was a delicious surprise. 😉

  8. Pali

    This looks delicious and light!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.