Recipe: Cheesy Shrimp & Cauliflower Pasta

Cauliflower is all the rage - I made my air fryer cauliflower and it was so tasty - I decided to try some more dishes with it! I came across a recipe for cheesy cauliflower pasta and thought it sounded good but I wanted to add some protein and went for shrimp. Excellent decision made!!!

The base recipe for this dish came from Milk Street. Chris Kimball started it after he left America's Test Kitchen. He does super detailed instructional recipes and is really about teaching techniques. It's a cheap online subscription (like $1) and you learn a lot! No affiliate link here - I just love it!  

The thing I love most about this pasta is that it's super light! So many times when you think of "cheesy pasta" it's heavy and fatty - this is super light because you're using pasta water instead of milk or cream. There's a little cheese too. I used a curly type pasta so the "sauce" would stick to it more easily. 

Why Do You Save Your Pasta Water? 

ured snippet from the web

Don't dump the water after draining when making this recipe. The pasta releases some of its starch as it cooks, and that salty, starchy water makes a great thickener for sauces. Since this recipe doesn't have any milk/cream - you need this water to make the dish have a touch of sauce. 

Should I use raw or cooked shrimp? 

When I'm using shrimp in a recipe - I ALWAYS get RAW shrimp - preferably with shells and tails off. The shells aren't difficult to remove - but the vein is kinda gross - so I'd rather not. A lot of restaurants will serve tails on - but then I have to stick my finger in my food - no thanks. So I'll always choose the raw with shells and tails off. Cooked shrimp is easy to use if you're having shrimp cocktail - but that's the only time I'll use it. 

How to cook raw shrimp? 

Raw shrimp is so easy to cook and really it only takes 2-3 minutes! My favorite way is to heat up olive oil or butter in a skillet. Once that is hot/melted - add a little minced garlic and cook for a minute or so. Then add your shrimp - 1-2 minutes - flip - 1 minute more and you're done! 

This pasta dish will be one of your favorites. The shrimp adds the protein and the cauliflower has a great texture and it all absorbs the simple flavors of the garlic and cheese. It's a super simple pasta dish that your family will love! 

Here are some other of my favorite easy pasta dishes: 
One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta
Greek Salmon Pasta
One Pot Cheesy Chicken Pasta

Cheesy Shrimp & Cauliflower Pasta

Yield: 2
prep time: cook time: 25 Mtotal time: 25 M
I love pasta dishes and wanted to find more ways to incorporate cauliflower into my menus - this recipe is based off some techniques I learned from Milk Street (such a great resource). It's a very light dish and not overly cheesy - it's got cheese but isn't heavy or thick. I love it! #cauliflower #pasta #cheese #shrimp


  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 10-12 large raw shrimp, tails off
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, halved and trimmed of leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to serve
  • 1 cup radiator pasta (or any short, curly pasta)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, finely grated, plus more to serve
  • 1/4 cup shredded provolone cheese, plus more to serve


How to cook Cheesy Shrimp & Cauliflower Pasta

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the cauliflower half and cook for 5 minutes; begin timing from the moment the cauliflower is added to the pot. Using tongs, transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board; reserve the pot and the water.
  2. When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, chop the florets and stems into pieces slightly smaller than the pasta, discarding the thick, tough core. You should have about 2 cups. Return the water to a boil.
  3. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the oil and garlic, stirring often, until the garlic is golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping halfway. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  4. Add the cauliflower, pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is well browned, 7 to 9 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reserve about 1½ cups cooking water, then drain. Add the pasta and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the skillet with the cauliflower, then stir in 1 cup of the reserved cooking water.
  6. Cook over medium-high, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. If the pan becomes dry before the pasta is done, add another ¼ cup reserved cooking water and continue to cook.
  7. When the pasta is al dente, with the skillet still over medium-high, stir in another ¼ cup reserved cooking water. Sprinkle on the Parmesan, then stir until the cheese is evenly distributed and melted. Sprinkle on the provolone, then stir until the pasta is glossy and lightly coated with melted cheese, then remove the pan from the heat.
  8. If the mixture looks sticky and dry, stir in additional cooking water a few tablespoons at a time until the proper consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with additional cheese and pepper flakes.

1 comment

  1. Looks delicious! Great way to get some veggies into dinner!