Pasta al Forno

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

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 

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.