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Penne with Spinach and Ricotta

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 the packaged baby spinach, it is also very quick and simple to prepare.

Ingredients:

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6 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound penne
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Tip

Cooking greens in salted water keeps them bright green and brings out their flavor.

Directions:

  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Put about one inch of water in a pot large enough to cook the spinach. Place it over high heat. When the water boils, add a 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.
  3. 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.
  4. When the water for the pasta is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons salt, add the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  5. 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.
  6. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve at once.

From Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta by Giuliano Hazan, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009

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Historic 16th Century Villa Giona in the gastronomic heart of northern Italy