Crunchy Lemon Ricotta Baked Pasta with Basil Pesto and Breadcrumbs

In my humble opinion, there is nothing more delicious than crunchy pasta. You know, the crunchy edges of a lasagne we all fight over. This delicious, crunchy chewy goodness has been sitting in the back of my mind over the last few months and yesterday, when a long awaited storm came rolling in with dark and ominous clouds filled with rain ready to burst, I knew it was time to get in the kitchen to make a pasta dish I have been thinking about for months. 

I love one-pan baked pasta recipes, they're so quick and easy to make but I wanted to create something a little bit different. This baked pasta has all the things I love - fresh basil pesto, creamy zingy lemon ricotta, and of course, crunchy pasta. To top it all off, for extra crunch I added toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan and pecorino cheese, and breadcrumbs on top of the pasta shells. My Crunchy Lemon Ricotta Baked Pasta is so creamy, and crunchy, and fresh, and zingy. It's a cosy meal for the cooler months, but even better in the warmer months when we can sit outside surrounded by our native garden. Instead of sitting at our table indoors, I decided to spoil the boys and create a beautiful tablescape for our alfresco lunch outside. Read on for the recipe and enjoy!

 

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Ingredients

  • 250 g Conchiglioni Pasta (large shells). You can get them from Coles.
  • Basil Pesto - depending on how much time you have, you can make your own or you can buy some. For this recipe, we made our own Basil Pesto using this recipe. If you don't have time, we love Roza's Basil Pesto, which you can get from IGA. They also have a Nut Free Basil Pesto and a Dairy Free Basil Pesto. 
  • 600g ricotta cheese
  • 1 large lemon - grate the rind and set aside, then juice the whole lemon
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 tbsp parmesan and/or pecorino cheese, grated
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt 
  • Cracked pepper 

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Cook the Conchiglioni Pasta as per the packet instructions. Make sure the pasta is cooked al dente, so lessen the cooking time by at least 2 minutes.
  • While the pasta is cooking, mix the juice and the lemon rind in the ricotta cheese. Set aside. 
  • Roughly cut bread slices into squares, place onto a sheet pan and cover with olive oil and sea salt. Toast in the oven at 180C until golden brown for about 5 to 10 minutes. When the bread is toasted, take it out of oven and set aside.
  • While the bread is toasting, spread the basil pesto (which you either made or bought) over the base of a baking tray, or a cast iron skillet, or an oven proof pan. 
  • Spoon the lemon ricotta into each pasta shell one at a time and place on top of the basil pesto. 
  • Sprinkle grated parmesan and/or pecorino cheeseover the pasta shells. 
  • Sprinkle toasted pine nuts over the pasta shells. 
  • Finely slice a handful of basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta shells. 
  • Place toasted bread into a plastic bad or in between a tea towel and bash with a rolling pin until you get breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the pasta shells. 
  • Sprinkle more parmesan and/or pecorino cheeseover the pasta shells for good measure.
  • Bake the pasta in the oven to bake for 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs start to darken and you can see the pasta getting crunchy. 
  • Remove from the oven and serve straight away. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

 

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