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Cheesy Pesto Pasta Bake

May 18, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted a new recipe, so I thought I’d post the recipe for the pasta dish I made for Elizabeth’s bachelorette party.  This is a trusty Rachael Ray recipe (love her), and you can find the original recipe HERE on the Food Network website.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of your favorite pasta (I used penne)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small to medium yellow onion
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup, 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup store bought basil pesto sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 pound shredded mozzarella

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and add your pasta.  And while you’re at it, preheat your broiler.

Next, finely chop the garlic,

And half of the onion.

Saute in a large skillet until soft and tender.

Next, add the crushed tomatoes to the onions and garlic.  The recipe says to use a 28 oz can, but I didn’t have one, so I used two 14 oz cans.  Same thing, right?

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Since it has already been established that I do NOT have a green thumb, I bought some fresh basil at the grocery store; but if you are like my mom and can pretty much grow anything, go ahead and use your own freshly grown basil!

Tear about 10 – 12 leaves (or 1/2 a cup) into small pieces and drop into your sauce.  Trust me, you’ll want to use fresh basil, not the dried stuff.  It’s SO worth it!

Stir the sauce around so that the basil wilts into the sauce.  Turn your heat down to low and let simmer for a few minutes.

Next, spoon your pesto into a medium bowl.  You can definitely make your own pesto, but I’m lazy, and store bought pesto seemed like the easier option.  Plus I was in a huge time crunch since I had to make this dish in pretty much less than half an hour.  I know….excuses, excuses.

Next add the ricotta cheese.  Now, I’ve used ricotta cheese before in lasagna and such, and it never really looked quite like this.  The ricotta I was used to was a lot more liquidy and not so stiff, but this is what I bought, so this is what I was gonna use.  Stir that around so that it’s completely combined.

Next add your parmesan cheese.  This isn’t quite 1/2 cup, but like I said….I was in a time crunch, and I didn’t feel like searching through the pantry for another bottle of cheese when this one ran out.

Drain your pasta and add to a baking dish.

Stir in your pesto/cheese mixture and make sure it completely coats the pasta.

Pour the tomato basil sauce over the pasta.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella alllllllllll over.  Now….remember my time crunch?  By this time, I was already about 3 minutes late, and they live about 15 minutes away.  And I still had to stick this under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes, so that means, I didn’t have time to take a picture when it was all finished.  So just imagine that this has been under the broiler for 5-7 minutes and that the top is all nice and bubbly and golden brown.  Looks great, doesn’t it?!

This recipe got rave reviews at the party, so I know you’ll love it!

P.S.  I was 20 minutes late to the party.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Pam Pentland permalink
    May 19, 2011 10:04 am

    OOOOH YUM!! It looks like something your daddy would like, too. I’m sure you could add some chicken or ground beef if you wanted to make it a main dish, right?
    That is Dreamfield’s Pasta, I am assuming. 🙂

  2. May 19, 2011 6:36 pm

    Oh, yum! Some of my favorites all in one place: pasta, pesto, and cheese. What’s not to love? 😀 Thanks for sharing! Oh, and since you brought this deliciousness to the party, I bet nobody minded you were late 🙂 In fact, I’ll bet you were the most popular guest!

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