Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata |

So remember last week how I made a really healthy kale salad to try to detox a bit from my vacation? Let’s talk about what happened later that week…

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata |

I set out to make a healthy pesto pasta sauce with roasted cauliflower. I succeeded, but then I decided it needed some cheddar, a dab o’ butter, and sliced burrata.

If you’re unfamiliar, you need to know thisveryinstant that burrata is the BEST THING EVER. It’s fresh mozzarella stuffed with shredded mozzarella that’s soaked in cream. Yes, cheese in cheese in cream, and yes, it is every bit as good and dreamy and laughably ridiculous as it sounds.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata |

The roasted cauliflower works really well with the nutty pesto (I used my pistachio pesto because it’s my favorite as-of-late), and adds extra depth to the sauce. I like making cream sauces with whole milk because, well, creamy, but 2% would be fine as well. The sharp white cheddar doesn’t overpower the pesto flavor, but gives the sauce a boost in tanginess and makes it feel more like a proper mac and cheese. Speaking of, I always like tomatoes in my mac-and-cheese-type meals, and especially these suuupah fresh local grape tomatoes that just burst with sweet, juicy flavor.

Then, friends, we top it all off with the burrata. Just yes. Just so much yes.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata |

Perhaps this doesn’t fit my detox week criteria…and by “criteria” I mean things that just “feel” healthy, because who has time to have actual criteria?…but it IS one of those meals that tastes super decadent despite being a (slightly?) better-for-you alternative to restaurant meals.

Let’s be real though – I’m not going to sit here and try to pretend burrata is super healthy. There are too many other types of praise that it deserves without resorting to outright lies.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata |

How did the rest of my detox week go, you ask? After eating burrata all week I went to a good friend’s wedding, had an awesome time, but had far too many whiskey gingers. I don’t really drink in excess, and hardly ever opt for hard alcohol when I do, so you can imagine how that turned out for me.

Except I hope you can’t imagine it, because I wouldn’t wish that pain on anybody. Eeeep.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata |

Eat your burrata and drink your whiskey. In excess and moderation, respectively. Life lessons, folks.

Creamy Cauliflower Pesto Shells with Burrata

Roasted cauliflower adds a nutty, creamy base to a cheesy pesto pasta sauce that's topped with burrata and mixed with juicy cherry tomatoes.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 3 cups cauliflower florets (1 small head)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other high heat oil)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth, hot
  • 1 cup milk, warmed (I used whole)
  • 12 ounces whole wheat pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 recipe pistachio pesto (or 1/3 cup of your favorite basil pesto)
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces sliced burrata


  1. Preheat oven to 425. Place cauliflower on a baking sheet, and drizzle with oil. Roast 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and tender.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  3. Combine roasted cauliflower, vegetable broth, and milk in a high powered blender and blend until completely smooth.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  5. Melt butter in a large oven-safe skillet. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the cauliflower mixture and remaining salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the pesto and white cheddar, and stir until everything is incorporated, and cheese is melted.
  6. Fold in the tomatoes and the cooked pasta. Top with burrata slices. Cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for another 5 minutes.
  7. Garnish with basil and serve.