Cheesy Pesto Baked Cavatelli with Kale & Tomatoes

Cheesy Pesto Baked Cavatelli

with Kale & Tomatoes

35 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

To create this satisfying pasta bake, you’ll mix sautéed veggies with tender bites of pasta, two kinds of melty cheese, and a dollop of herbaceous basil pesto. A layer of crispy breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of tangy pecorino cheese add more layers of delicious flavor and texture to this crowd-pleasing dish.

Get Cooking
  • Nutrition
  • Calories
    720 Cals (est.)
Cheesy Pesto Baked Cavatelli with Kale & Tomatoes
  • 1 lb Fresh Cavatelli Pasta (Previously Frozen)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ⅓ cup Basil Pesto
  • ¼ cup Cream
  • ¼ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 4 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2 oz Fontina Cheese
  • ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • ½ lb Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Kale

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Get This Recipe Delivered
Prepare the ingredients
1 Prepare the ingredients

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way up with salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Separate the kale leaves from the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Halve the tomatoes. Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic. Small dice the mozzarella. Grate the fontina on the large side of a box grater. In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

2 Cook the pasta

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 11 to 13 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Turn off the heat. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. 

Cook the pasta
Cook the vegetables
3 Cook the vegetables

Meanwhile, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the chopped garlic and as much of the red pepper flakes as you'd like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until slightly softened. Add the chopped kale. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes,  or until the kale is slightly wilted. Add the cream (carefully, as the liquid may splatter) and 1/2 cup of  water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and most of the liquid has cooked off. Turn off the heat and stir in the halved tomatoes.

4 Assemble the casserole

To the pot of cooked pasta, add the cooked vegetables, diced mozzarella, grated fontina, and pesto. Stir to combine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired. Transfer to a large baking dish and arrange in an even layer. Evenly top with the seasoned breadcrumbs

Assemble the casserole
Bake the casserole & serve your dish
5 Bake the casserole & serve your dish

Bake the casserole 9 to 11 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand at least 2 minutes before serving. Serve the baked casserole garnished with the romano. Enjoy!