Penne with Basil and Ricotta and Crispy Pine Nut Topping

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Think of this casserole as mac and cheese for adults. Ricotta adds extra creaminess to the sauce, and pine nuts make the breadcrumb topping extra-crunchy.

  • 6Servings


  • 1 1/2 cups penne pasta
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (2 Tbs.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbs. pine nuts
  • 2 Tbs. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil


1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, then drizzle with 1 tsp. oil. Keep warm. 2. Preheat broiler. Coat 6 1/2-cup ramekins with cooking spray, and place on baking sheet. 3. Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in flour until paste forms. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until sauce thickens. (If sauce becomes too thick, add a few spoonfuls of water.) Whisk in ricotta, then gradually whisk in 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in fresh basil, and season with salt and white pepper, if desired. Stir penne into sauce. Spoon heaping 1/2 cup penne mixture into each prepared ramekin. 4. Combine remaining 2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil, pine nuts, panko breadcrumbs, and dried basil in bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 Tbs. pine nut mixture. 5. Broil ramekins 2 to 3 minutes, or until topping turns golden brown.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 294
  • Carbohydrate Content: 28 g
  • Cholesterol Content: 30 mg
  • Fat Content: 14 g
  • Fiber Content: 1 g
  • Protein Content: 16 g
  • Saturated Fat Content: 5 g
  • Sodium Content: 371 mg
  • Sugar Content: 5 g