Penne with Spinach and Ricotta

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

When making tortelloni filled with spinach and ricotta, I sometimes ended 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 mixture and it was delicious—so much so that I've been making it just to use as a pasta sauce. If you use packaged baby spinach, it is also very quick and simple to prepare.




Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch


Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, rich, tangy

Type of Dishdry pasta


  • Salt
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound penne
  • ¾ cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ 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 1 inch of water in a pot large enough to cook the spinach. Place it over high heat. When the water boils, add 1 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.



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I liked this - easy midweek dinner. Next time I think I will add a little lemon to the spinach before adding the cream and ricotta to give it a little more flavor.


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