Pantry Pasta Vol. 2: Hell’s Shells

There was a time a few years ago that I was broker than broke. Like try and sell everything you own broke. During this time I had to rely (even more heavily than usual) on pasta. On top of that it was definitely a no ingredient left behind situation.

One night all I had were shells, cauliflower, and my standard pantry spices. And thus magic was born. I named this pasta Hell’s Shells for two reasons: One, the only flavorings I had to rely on was crushed red pepper and lots of garlic. And two, the other half of the magic comes from sauteing to the point where it’s almost burnt and a little crispy.

To be honest even though this is a kick-ass poverty meal it feels almost silly writing a recipe and post for it because of how simple it is. But to this day I still rely on this recipe because there’s something so satisfying about a big bowl of spicy noodles and cauliflower covered in a mountain of cheese.


  • 1 lb shell pasta
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 15 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • An obscene amount of parmesan

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and saute until it just becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower and a large pinch of salt. Toss until coated in the oil. Cook the cauliflower until it starts to brown up, stirring every couple of minutes for about 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile boil your pasta in salted water over high heat according to package directions minus one minute. Drain the pasta and toss with the cauliflower/oil mixture. Season to taste. Serve immediately and top with ridiculously massive amounts of parmesan.

Leave a Reply