I love Ina Garten!  When my husband asked for a “Cooking for Jeffrey” cookbook for his birthday, I eagerly searched Amazon prime for a copy.  After he opened it and made a few comments, I soon realized this wasn’t exactly a gift Mike intended to use, but rather a gift Mike intended me to use.  Hmph!


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I guess I should be glad he didn’t ask for a Giada De Laurentils cookbook.  My cleavage wouldn’t measure up.

We celebrated Mike’s birthday with the fam a day early.  I thought and maybe hoped a little, Mike would want to go out to a nice dinner on his actual birthday.  He wanted grilled steak and “Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower” from his….err…my new cookbook.

There are so many things I love in this recipe:  fresh sage and parsley, capers, ricotta, fresh lemon… I will definitely make this again, but next time I think I’ll cook the cauliflower just a little longer.

Here’s the recipe:

Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower

3/4 lb medium pasta shells
2 1/2 lbs cauliflower (about one head), cut into small florets

3 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
1/2 tsp lemon zest, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, freshly grated
8 oz Ricotta
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
6 Tbsp Italian Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 400°. Fill large pot with water, add 2 Tbsp salt and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook al dente, according to theinstructions on the package. Don’t overcook it! Drain and pouriinto a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5-6 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 Tbsp of oil to the pan, add remaining cauliflower and cook until browned and tender, then add to the bowl with pasta.

Add sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper to bowl and stir carefully. Stir in Fontina. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2 inch rectangular baking dish. Spoon rounded Tbsp of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. Combine the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.

Why is Ina barefoot?  Does Jeffrey have a foot fetish?  Grody. 

something you may not know:  not to sound like a broken record, but here you have it.  Cauliflower.  Yet another vegetable that contains inflammation and cancer fighting properties.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get cancer.

Could eating more fruits and vegetables be the answer to satiety, weight loss, high blood pressure, inflammatory diseases, heart disease and cancer prevention?  Along with exercise, I think maybe.  The science is there.  What’s your opinion?

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  1. Pretty funny! But yeah sometimes you can do everything right and still get cancer…unfortunately, However I will always highly recommend high fruit and vegetable intake along with exercise to decrease the chances of getting cancer!

  2. A really fun post! Oh I love fontina. This sounds like a wonderful birthday meal! Yeah, I don’t love Giada and her cleavage much either.

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