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.
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.
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!
Note: unless you’re making a half recipe, use a larger pan than is pictured in the photo at the top of this post.
Shells & Roasted Cauliflower
- 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
- 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.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and sambal and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional sambal, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.