Saffron Cauliflower and Shrimp Pasta

The cauliflower is in!  All of my plants produced usable heads this spring, with no bugs.  What a nice change. The cool, wet weather this spring has benefitted the early vegetables, but I am not sure what the effect will be on my hot weather veggies.  The tomato plants are not happy and my okra disappeared.  Only time will tell.


Cauliflower has become one of our favorite vegetables to build a meal around. I usually pan or oven roast it; this recipe is a change, in that the cauliflower is steamed. This version is a very minor adaptation of a recipe by Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy from Splendid Table.

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta

The orange pasta is a carrot squash pasta.  I had never tried it before, but it worked perfectly for this dish.  The flavor complemented the saffron very nicely, and it added some color to what would have been a very white bowl.

Saffron Cauliflower and Shrimp Pasta

(adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison)

1 cauliflower (about 1 1/2 ponds), broken into small florets, the core diced (from the garden)

2 bsp olive oil, plus more for tossing the pasta

1 onion, finely diced

2 pinches saffron threads

1 garlic scape, minced (from the garden)

1 pound gulf shrimp

Scant 1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp dried parsley (from the garden)

Sea salt

8 – 12 ounces pasta bow ties, shells, or other pasta (we used carrot squash bow ties)


Steam the cauliflower florets and core for 4 minutes.  Taste a piece, it should be on the verge of tenderness, but not quite fully cooked.  Set aside.

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta2

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Peel the shrimp, then saute over high heat in olive oil until pink and firm, after 5 minutes or so.  Toss with 1/2 minced garlic scape and some of the parsley.  Set aside.

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta1

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saffron and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, 6 minutes or so.  The steam will activate the saffron so that it stains and flavors the onion.

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta3

Add the garlic scape, pepper flakes, and a little parsley.  Stir, then add the cauliflower. Toss to coat with the seasonings.  Add 1/2 cup water, and cook over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender, just a few minutes. Season with salt, toss with half the remaining parsley and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, transfer to a warmed bowl and toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining parsley.

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta4

Taste for salt, then spoon the cauliflower over the pasta, mix lightly.

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta5

Spoon into individual pasta dishes and top with shrimp. Enjoy!

saffron cauliflower and shrimp pasta

Serves 4 – 5.


One Comment Add yours

Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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