This penne with spinach-ricotta sauce is a quick weeknight pasta meal of tender penne pasta smothered in a creamy mixture of ricotta cheese, baby spinach, and Parmesan cheese. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also on the table in just 30 minutes. You’re welcome.
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
Spinach and Ricotta Pasta FAQs
Can I use low-fat ricotta cheese?
We don’t recommend it. As author Giuliano Hazan notes, whole-milk ricotta will give you the best results.
How can I make this spinach penne pasta dish faster?
We’re all for getting this quick and easy pasta on the table as quickly as possible. Use pre-washed bagged baby spinach to save yourself a few minutes.
What else can I make with spinach and ricotta?
If you love the creamy combination of spinach and ricotta, or simply need to use up extra ingredients, try using it as a filling for homemade pasta, or make this spinach and ricotta gnudi.
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.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Originally published September 28, 2009
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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.