Pasta with Ricotta, Spinach and Herbs


There are days I’m able to trick myself into believing I am good gardener. Truth is I have a black thumb. We’ve had a pretty nice summer so far; until this past week it wasn’t too hot; and it hasn’t been too wet, too cold or too dry. Yet my garden looks like most others did at the beginning of June. My nasturtiums are still the size of smurfs (three apples tall). My tomatoes still look like they could be in pots at the garden store, and either a groundhog or a some sort of bug is eating my basil. So this post was supposed to be about the wonderful pasta I made with herbs from my garden. Instead it’s about the wonderful pasta I made with fresh herbs from my grocery store.

I wish I could take full credit for this recipe but it’s from Cooking Light. I haven’t changed much–its just too good a recipe to fool around with. The first time I made this pasta I didn’t change a thing, and it was wonderful, but my hubby and I topped it with a hefty amount of extra cheese and then scarfed down what was supposed to be a portion for four people (oops!). So, I’ve increased the portion size from the diet-size portions that Cooking Light is very bad at convincing me that I’m supposed to be happy with to normal human-sized portions. I’ve also increased the amount of Romano cheese in it. Pretty understandable changes I think.

One other thing bothered my hubby and I the first time we made it. The spinach did not fully wilt. It was as if someone had poured this absolutely delicious pasta over a spinach salad. If that’s something that sounds pretty fantastic to you, then don’t follow the step that tells you to microwave the spinach.

I’ve made this recipe so many times since I found it in Cooking Light a few months ago. It’s one of those pasta recipes that makes you forget you ever wanted meat in a dish. My hubby really likes it too, although he’d like it more without the spinach. Too bad buster, eat your spinach! It’s also a great way of using up extra herbs. Although I think it’s best with the parsley/chive/dill combo, I’ve also tried it with basil instead of dill and with a bit of fresh thyme thrown in. All of it’s pretty yummy. Enjoy!

Fettuccine with Ricotta, Spinach and HerbsClick here for a printer friendly version
Serves 4
This recipe is based on a recipe from Cooking Light.

1 6-7 ounce bag baby spinach
1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup dill, finely chopped or 1/2 cup basil, roughly torn
1 ounce Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb fettuccine
1 clove garlic
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Rinse spinach well even if it’s prewashed and run through salad spinner or dry with towels. If you like your spinach thoroughly wilted, place spinach in a large microwave-safe serving bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Chop herbs and add to spinach along with olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.

When water comes to a boil, add fettuccine and clove of garlic. Boil according to the directions on the pasta. Drain the pasta reserving two cups of the cooking liquid, then pour the pasta over the spinach mixture.

In a blender or small food processor add the ricotta, cooked clove of garlic and 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. With the lid of the blender or food processor vented and covered with a dish towel, pulse until smooth and combined.

Pour the ricotta sauce over the pasta. Toss everything together and let sit for a minute or two so the sauce can thicken. Add additional cooking liquid as needed to reach desired consistency. Serve with additional grated cheese for topping.

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