Toast the garlic in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Transfer garlic to a plate to cool and then peel the cloves and chop coarsely.
Place the basil in a heavy-duty gallon-sized resealable bag. Pound the bag with the flat side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin until all the leaves are lightly bruised. (Bruising the leaves apparently helps to release their oils and intensify their flavor.)
Process the garlic, basil, Parmesan, ricotta, shallot, oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
The pesto can be covered with plastic wrap pressed flush against its surface and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Yeilds 1 cup which is enough for 1 pound of pasta.
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