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Off the Shelf: Spinach and Ricotta Baked Pasta

A simple cheese-and-spinach pasta dish from Off the Shelf that could use a tad more oomph. The addition of garlic livened this recipe up quite a bit.

I also have modified the instructions somewhat; in the original recipe, the cook places the cooked rigatoni in a baking dish and then tops the pasta with the ricotta-spinach mixture. This left the pasta on the bottom of the dish rather bare, and some of the tubes got too browned and almost crunchy. A better method is to toss the pasta with half of the cheese mixture before placing it in the baking dish. Then spoon the remaining cheese and spinach on top. This made for a creamier dish with a better texture.

Donna Hay's instructions have you blanch bunches of spinach, but I preferred to use bags of baby spinach and to sauté it with garlic. That way, the spinach was wilted without introducing a lot of excess moisture, and the flavor was better.

I also adjusted the amount of sour cream from the original 10 oz. to 8 oz., a more convenient size for American cooks to find.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 to 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 lb rigatoni
2 bags (9 oz. each) baby spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 1 Tbsp)
1 1/2 lb ricotta cheese
8 oz. sour cream
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni until al dente, then drain and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop the spinach.

Combine the ricotta, sour cream, eggs, parmesan, dill, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chopped spinach and combine well. Reserve half of this mixture in another bowl; add the cooked pasta to the remaining mixture and toss to combine. Pour the pasta into the prepared pan. Spoon the reserved ricotta mixture over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.



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