This pesto pasta casserole is a delicious vegetarian meal

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Making fresh pesto is something that every home cook should be able to do. Blending aromatic basil with fresh garlic and parmesan cheese is a staple in Italian cooking, and goes perfectly in this vegetarian dish. This casserole is delicious, filling and fresh-tasting, and it can be prepared in about 30 minutes. That makes it an efficient option for a quick lunch to take to work or school.
To add some extra creaminess, use heavy cream for the dish. Although this isn't a traditional ingredient in pesto, it gives the pesto a luscious mouthfeel, and brings the whole casserole together. Kids will love the color and taste of this dish, while adults will love how quickly it comes together. If penne pasta isn't your favorite, choose another type of pasta such as fusilli or rotini.
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Cooktop Cove
Pesto Pasta Casserole
6 to 8
10 minutes
25 minutes
35 minutes
For the pesto:
4 cups fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, whole
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cold tap water
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
For the pasta:
12 oz. penne pasta cooked very al dente
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese (shredded or mini balls)
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Add the basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, heavy cream, and water to a food processor.
Pulse the processor to start breaking down the ingredients.
Add the olive oil to the processor, and blend until the pesto is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Add the halved cherry tomatoes and the pesto sauce to the cooked pasta in a bowl. Stir to combine well.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a large, ungreased baking dish. Make sure it is spread evenly.
Evenly sprinkle the top of the casserole with shredded parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
Place the baking dish in the oven, and allow to cook until the dish is heated all the way through and the cheese is melted.
Remove the casserole from the oven, and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
Serve while still hot. Garnish with more parmesan cheese, fresh chopped basil or fresh parsley (optional).
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