Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cook: Al Forno's Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses, Tomato, Cream, and Corn

Al Forno's in Providence, RI is one of my favorite all-time restaurants, in the world!  In fact, their baked pasta and grilled pizza may very well be amongst my top 10 favorite foods ever!!!   I always enjoyed the opportunity to dine at Al Forno when I lived in Providence. However, since moving to LA, I haven't had a chance to make it back to RI.  Fortunately, Johanne Killeen and George Germon published a cookbook "On top of Spaghetti" that allows me to recreate the delicious baked pasta whenever I have the craving! The following recipe is a definite hit - it has received compliments with everyone who I've shared it with.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Shells Baked with Tomato Cream, Corn, and Five Cheeses 
(Serves 6-8 course as first course, 4-6 as main course)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 3/4 cup coarsely shredded Fontina
  • 4 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ricotta
  • 2 small (4 oz total) balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh cooked corn kernels (we used 1 can of corn)
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 lb dried small ridged pasta shells
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the pasta and butter. Stir well to combine
  3. Generously salt the boiling water and drop in the pasta. Parboil for 5 minutes, stirring often. Drain pasta (it will be very firm, it will continue to cook in oven)
  4. Add pasta to ingredients in mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Pour into 9x13 baking pan or casserole. 
  5. Dot with butter
  6. Bake until bubbly and brown on top, about 8-10 min, then broil for a couple minutes until top of a few shells are crunchy!
The pasta is delicious as a main, or along with some pea soup and roast chicken. You can find those recipes on this blog as well. Happy Cooking (and Eating)!

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