Captured this idea from a Cook’s Illustrated show on PBS. Watched the video on line a few times and adapted from there. The original recipe is called “Fusilli with Ricotta and Spinach.” The one posted here is fairly close to the original idea. It really tastes like ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach. Without the fuss!
1 1/3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, divided
3 TBS olive oil, divided
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
12 oz. package Tri-Color Rotini (Barilla)
Large package fresh baby spinach (about 9 ounces)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup ricotta, 1 TBS olive oil, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.
2. Cook the pasta according to package directions in a pot of well-salted boiling water.
3. About a minute or so before the pasta is al dente, remove about a cup of the water. You might need some of it to thin out the sauce.
4. Now for a great trick! Add the package of baby spinach to the pot of cooking pasta. Stir the spinach into the pasta just until the spinach wilts. This will only take about a minute. Drain the combined pasta and spinach in a colander. Put the mixture back into the cooking pot.
5. While the pasta is boiling, in another smaller pot, combine 2 TBS olive oil, minced garlic, and cayenne pepper. Cook for about a minute to bloom flavors. Remove from heat before the next step.
6. Add the last 1/3 cup of ricotta cheese, cream (or half and half), lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt to the pot. Whisk well.
7. Pour the sauce over the pasta/spinach. Add the Parmesan and mix well. Let sit for a couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Thin with reserved cooking water as needed.
8. Pour into a large pasta bowl or onto a platter. Dot with the ricotta mixture that you had set aside.
This recipe makes enough for four generous servings. Since there were only two of us the night I made it, I had enough left over for another meal. So for its second iteration, I added sautéed mushrooms and spring onions, and a couple of sliced Italian sausages to the leftovers. It was even better!