Pasta and BLT Bake

Add bacon, kale and tomato sauce to this ricotta-topped penne dish as a nod to the BLT.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6
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Ingredients

Kosher salt

8 ounces penne pasta

4 strips bacon

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, with juices

5 ounces baby kale

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish, optional

8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, lay the bacon in a large ovenproof skillet and cook over medium heat, turning once, until brown and slightly crispy, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Break up the bacon into bite-size pieces.
  4. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and juices, kale, crushed red pepper, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the kale wilts, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and mozzarella to the sauce and stir to thoroughly coat.
  5. Mix together the ricotta and Parmesan in a small bowl. Drop spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture on top of the pasta mixture. Sprinkle with the bacon pieces and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional basil if using.