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
- 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.
Originally published September 28, 2009