Baked Pesto Pasta With Tomato & Cheese

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Total Time
35mins
Prep
15 mins
Cook
20 mins

This is a different twist on my family's old favorite: Baked Penne. This recipe is also meatLESS, which I like, but I am sure you can improvise and add ground meat or sausage if you prefer. This is great for potlucks or parties because it can easily be made ahead of time. I saw a version of this made on 30 Minute Meals, but I prefer to make my own pesto sauce from scratch, because I am not too fond of the store bought. To save time, please feel free to use store bought pesto. I also chose to use whole wheat pasta in this as well. Because of the great flavors of pesto, cheese and tomatoes, I find that it is easy to sub whole wheat pasta, even for folks who might be skeptical.

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Preheat your pot for the tomato sauce over medium heat.
  3. Add olive oil, then garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Next add the diced onion, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, and saute for about 5 minutes, or until onion soft and fragrant.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir well.
  6. When tomatoes begin to boil, reduce heat to low, add fresh basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Let sauce simmer while you make your pesto (if not using store bought).
  8. Preheat broiler.
  9. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until just barely al dente.
  10. Drain pasta, and toss with 1 cup of your pesto sauce, 1/2 cup parmesan, and 1 cup of the ricotta cheese, be sure to blend well.
  11. Add pasta to a casserole dish.
  12. Top with the tomato basil sauce.
  13. You don't need to use all of the sauce, but rather serve the extra on the side.
  14. Top casserole with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  15. Place under broiler for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  16. **Note:Casserole can be assembled ahead of time, covered with foil, and then reheated in a 350 degree oven until heated through.
  17. Remove foil for last 5-10 minutes in order to melt cheese.