Penne with Spinach-Ricotta Sauce

When making tortelloni filled with spinach and ricotta, I sometimes end up with leftover filling. It occurred to me that it would make a very nice pasta sauce, so I added a little cream to the spinach and ricotta mixture and it was delicious—so much so that I’ve been making it just to use as a pasta sauce. Serve the pasta and sauce at once.–Giuliano Hazan

LC For Best Results Note

For best results, notes author Giuliano Hazan, rely on whole-milk ricotta. For fastest results, he adds, reach for a bag rather than a bunch of spinach.

Penne with Spinach-Ricotta Sauce

A white serving bowl filled with penne with spinach-ricotta sauce.
Giuliano Hazan

Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins
4 servings
641 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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  • Salt
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound penne
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  • Fill a pot with about 6 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
  • Pour about 1 inch of water in a second pot, one that’s large enough to contain the spinach, and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the spinach and cook until quite tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing on it with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and finely chop it.
  • Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Place the butter and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes.
  • When the water for the pasta is boiling, add 2 tablespoons salt and the penne and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  • When the onion is ready, add the spinach to the skillet and sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the ricotta, cream, and nutmeg, and cook, stirring, until the ricotta is heated through and the cream has reduced considerably, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat.
  • When the penne is done, drain it well, toss it with the spinach and ricotta sauce and the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve at once.
Print RecipeBuy the Thirty Minute Pasta cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 641kcal (32%)Carbohydrates: 92g (31%)Protein: 25g (50%)Fat: 18g (28%)Saturated Fat: 11g (69%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 58mg (19%)Sodium: 298mg (13%)Potassium: 539mg (15%)Fiber: 5g (21%)Sugar: 5g (6%)Vitamin A: 4552IU (91%)Vitamin C: 13mg (16%)Calcium: 306mg (31%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Originally published September 28, 2009


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  1. 5 stars
    This pasta is mild and luscious, reminiscent of creamed spinach but much lighter. We served it two ways: my husband had his with parmesan and I had mine with mizithra. Both were delicious. I think it might also be very good to puree the sauce, especially if you are working with frozen spinach or spinach which is past its prime.

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