I found Ricotta at the Lebanese store that looked really good. So in the basket it went. As luck would have it, the CSA basket provided spinach. One of our favorite pasta is the ricotta and spinach cannelloni but time was not on my side to get into all the pasta prep needed.
I still thought that the combo would work as a quick weekend night pasta and boy was I right. I loosely followed this recipe and really enjoyed the results. It’s quick, easy and full of flavor. We used the radiatore pasta and as you can see it worked great as scoops for the ricotta and spinach. However, shapes like shells, rigatoni, penne, macaroni would also work great. For another alternative, I think that you could also use swiss chard, zucchini, arugula as an alternative to spinach.
Penne with Spinach and Ricotta
From Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta by Giuliano Hazan
6 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound penne
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
- Put about one inch of water in a pot large enough to cook the spinach. Place it over high heat. When the water boils, add a teaspoon salt and the spinach. Cook until the spinach is quite tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible by pressing on the spinach with a spoon. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and finely chop it.
- While the spinach is cooking, peel the onion and finely chop it. Put the butter in a 12-inch skillet, add the onion, and place over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until it turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes.
- When the water for the pasta is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons salt, add the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
- When the onion is ready, add the spinach and sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the ricotta, cream, and nutmeg, and cook until the ricotta has heated through and the cream is reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt and season with pepper, then remove from the heat.
- When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve at once.
Note: when I say loosely followed, I mean I used 1 bunch fresh spinach, at least 2 cups of ricotta, lemon juice to season, pasta water to loosen up the sauce and I’m sure that I’m forgetting something. Don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous.
We played around with taking pictures again. The one at the top of the post was mine, here are the other two. I’m finding it really interesting to see how just three people can look at the same thing and see it differently.