We’ve paired a ricotta spinach pasta with a fresh chunky tomato sauce for a healthy, satisfying side or main dish.
Add some hot crusty bread and a red lentil vegetable soup and you have yourself a simple, rustic weekday meal. The pasta is quick to prepare (30 minutes) and even quicker if you use leftover fresh tomato sauce or your favorite bottled sauce.
The tomato sauce in this recipe (which we use all the time) is a very easy and basic one, but excellent when you use good quality canned tomatoes (like San Marzano), good olive oil and fresh garlic. For this pasta dish, we leave it chunky. The creamy mild ricotta contrasts nicely with the acidity of tomato sauce.
- Buy a good quality tomato sauce. I like White Linen from Costco.
- Make a fresh no-cook tomato ‘sauce” to use as the topping. Just dice tomatoes and add a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Add fresh or dried herbs to the spinach ricotta pasta such as thyme, basil, chives or dill.
- We like to add some chili flakes to our tomato sauce to give it a bit of a kick, but you can, of course, leave out the spice.
- Add basil or onions to the tomato sauce.
Make Ahead Spinach Ricotta Pasta
- Both the spinach ricotta pasta and tomato sauce can be made ahead. Keep in fridge separately for up to 2-3 days. Warm the pasta and sauce separately in a microwave or on the stove. You will likely need to add a bit of liquid to the pasta to return it to a creamier state.
Ricotta Spinach Pasta with Tomato Sauce
- 1 1/2 cup small pasta (fusilli, ziti, baby penne)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 clove garlic minced (you will need two more for the sauce)
- 2 1/2 cup frozen spinach (to make 3/4 cup cooked)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup ricotta (not light)
- 1 cup half and half cream (or milk)
- up to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
- 1/2 tsp each, salt and pepper (or to taste)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 can diced tomatoes (540 ml)
- 2 tsp garlic minced (2 cloves)
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- MAKE THE TOMATO SAUCE: Use a good bottled or canned sauce if you want to take a shortcut. Otherwise.... In a medium saucepan, heat olive on medium, add garlic and stir for a minute (make sure it doesn't burn as it will become bitter). Add the diced tomatoes, chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes until thickened. Adjust seasonings (and add others if you like).
- MAKE THE PASTA: While the tomato sauce is cooking, boil the pasta in salted water in a medium-large sauce pan according to pasta directions for al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
- MAKE THE SPINACH-RICOTTA SAUCE: Microwave frozen spinach covered for 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze out water in paper towel. In the same saucepan you boiled the pasta, melt oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Add ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until smooth. Mix in the cooked pasta. Add a bit of pasta water at a time, if needed, to create the right consistency. Continue stirring until pasta is heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings, keeping in mind the tomato sauce topping.
- SERVE: Spoon into bowls and top with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce or pass the tomato sauce on the side. Pass additional grated Parmesan cheese as well if desired.
Other vegetarian pasta dishes you might like: