Pasta al Forno

Total Time:
1 hr 5 min
30 min
35 min

6 to 8 servings

  • Pesto:
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 cup walnuts or whole blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Pasta:
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound large pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 pounds heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • For the pesto: Put the spinach, basil, nuts, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in some salt and pepper.

  • For the pasta: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the shells and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside, making sure to reserve a cup or so of pasta-cooking liquid.

  • While the pasta cooks, mix the ricotta with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and some salt and pepper in another small bowl.

  • When the pasta is ready, put it in a large bowl and mix in the pesto, tomatoes, and enough reserved cooking liquid to make a sauce. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, dollop with the seasoned ricotta and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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