Kid Food Critics: Spinach and Ricotta Pasta


Despite the high spinach content, my kids rate it as "foot-up, foot-up, hands up" – whatever that means. In any event, this recipe makes a great alternative to boxed mac & cheese and cooks in about the same amount of time.

I found this recipe in a Cook's Illustrated magazine 3 years ago and, with a few modifications, it has made its way into our regular weeknight meal rotation. It's great for meatless-Monday or for a busy weeknight, since it comes together in ~30 minutes. 

 



I tend to overestimate my commitment to spinach salads when I do my grocery shopping at the beginning of the week, so this is a great way to use up wilted greens.

Before cooking the spinach, I chop it into little tiny pieces so my kids don't pick it out and pile it on the side of the plate. 

Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach:
1 lb curly pasta, like fusilli (I use gluten-free pasta)

1 carton whole-milk ricotta (15 oz)
2 T olive oil
1 pound baby spinach, chopped small 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 heavy cream
1 tsp lemon zest (1 large lemon)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Serves: 4-5
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Instructions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta plus 1 T salt. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve ~1 cup of pasta cooking water.  Stir chopped spinach into the pot with the pasta and cook until wilted (1 minute).  Drain the cooked pasta & spinach.

2. Leave pasta in the strainer. In the now empty pasta pot, heat olive oil, garlic, nutmeg, and cayenne over medium heat until fragrant (about 1 minute). Remove pan from heat and whisk in the ricotta, cream, lemon zest and juice, 1 tsp salt.

3. Add the cooked pasta/spinach to the ricotta-cream mixture and stir together. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and combine. Let the pasta rest, tossing frequently until sauce has thickened slightly & coats the pasta (2-4 minutes). Adjust the consistency by adding the reserved pasta water.

Serve with extra Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper. 

 

 


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