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Penne with Spinach and Ricotta

February 27, 2008

I have a quick post for you tonight about a pasta dish I’ve been making recently. I’d been experimenting with some different recipes using ricotta cheese, and this one has risen to the top as one of our new favorite dinners (though leftovers are equally good for lunch!) It was loosely inspired by a penne with spinach sauce recipe in Giada De Laurentiis’s Giada’s Family Dinners, though hers doesn’t have ricotta cheese in it.

The lovely green, garlicky sauce is blended in the food processor while you cook the pasta, so the dish comes together really quickly. I usually use whole wheat penne, and serve it with some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. This is a dish Popeye would have loved — there’s spinach in the sauce, and more spinach tossed with the hot pasta! In these bleak midwinter days (we just got another 7 inches of snow), I guess you could say that an emerald-green plate of pasta is a form of color therapy, right?

We’ve been eating it just as is, with the spinach that’s tossed with the hot pasta and sauce only slightly wilted. If you like your spinach a little more wilted, I would saute it briefly in a large pan, with just the water clinging to its leaves, until it just starts to wilt – then add the cooked drained pasta and the spinach sauce.

And one more note – I think it would be really terrific with some fresh, diced tomatoes on top. How much I’m looking forward to those days of ripe tomatoes again!


Penne with Spinach and Ricotta

3/4 cup ricotta cheese (fresh would be the best, but if you can’t find that, I really like Organic Valley’s whole milk ricotta)
2 oz goat cheese
6 oz organic baby spinach (about 6 lightly packed cups)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz whole wheat penne (or other pasta of your choice)

Boil the penne in a large pot of salted water until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, rinse the spinach. Place half the spinach (3 oz, or about 3 lightly packed cups) in the bowl of a food processor, along with the ricotta, goat cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Puree until very smooth. Taste and season with more salt or pepper, as you like.

Place the other half of the spinach in either a large bowl (if you want it only slightly wilted) or a large saucepan — see the note in my post above if you’re going to wilt it a little in the saucepan before adding the pasta. Once the pasta has cooked, drain it and add it while hot to the spinach, and add the ricotta-spinach sauce. Toss to combine well, and divide among 3-4 plates. Serve with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Serves 3-4.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2008 8:59 pm

    I am not a pasta lover (or liker) but the sauce sounds good. Maybe with a chicken breast & fresh veggies. Yum…makes me kinda hungry thinking about it.

  2. February 27, 2008 9:34 pm

    Gretchen Noelle, that’s a great idea; it would be tasty on chicken, or maybe over fish, too.

  3. February 28, 2008 8:19 am

    Gorgeous if only my son would eat it!
    Excellent blog, btw.

  4. February 28, 2008 5:55 pm

    Thanks, Aimee! I’d say the sauce is a little more garlicky than strongly spinachy-tasting…if your son likes garlic, maybe you could sneak it past him! Glad you like the blog. 🙂

  5. February 29, 2008 5:01 pm

    The pasta looks amazing! I am definately making this for St. Patrick’s Day.

  6. February 29, 2008 5:18 pm

    Ha! Amy, I hadn’t even thought of that…what a great idea. It *is* really green.

  7. February 29, 2008 10:20 pm

    Yum! This looks so good…it might have to become a regular part of my rotation of dinners! And actually, a great idea for St Patty’s Day, since I definitely won’t be eating any corned beef…

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