How to make it

  • 1. For the topping: Pulse bread in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Transfer to small bowl; stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Set mixture aside.
  • 2. For the pasta: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  • 3. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Combine cheeses in large bowl; set aside. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water; stir to separate pasta. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk flour into butter until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in cream, add tomatoes, and increase heat to medium, and bring to boil, -stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 minute to ensure that flour cooks. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; cover cream mixture to keep hot and set aside. When pasta is very al dente (when bitten into, pasta should be opaque and slightly underdone at very center), drain about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Add pasta to bowl with cheeses; immediately pour cream mixture over, then cover bowl with foil or large plate and let stand 3 minutes. Uncover bowl and stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl, until cheeses are melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.
  • 4. Transfer pasta to 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs, pressing down lightly. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Serve immediately.
  • Variation: substitute 4 ounces prosciutto , chopped and 1 cup frozen peas for the tomatoes and basil.

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