Recipe: Unstuffed Pasta Florentine

We used to love making many different varieties of stuffed pasta shells, but now that we’ve gone the whole-grain route, I just cannot (easily) find jumbo whole-wheat shells in order to make all of our old favorites. So instead of giving up those yummy one-dish meals, I have just decided “unstuffed” dinners may be the way to go.

I am excited to share this super easy and super tasty version of Pasta Florentine that I adapted from a recent issue of Rachael Ray magazine. If you need some inspiration to switch things up with new recipes, then order a couple of food magazines. I love to flip through for ideas!

Oh, and PS – This particular dish was a HUMONGOUS hit with the kids. They have both repeatedly asked me if I can make it again. So enjoy!

Unstuffed Pasta Florentine Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food #pasta #realfood


3.9 from 15 reviews
Unstuffed Pasta Florentine
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 pound whole-grain rigatoni pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups milk or cream (or a combination)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach leaves (or a combination of spinach/Swiss chard/kale, sometimes labeled as "Power Mix")
  • 1½ cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ pound mozzarella cheese, diced or shredded
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Special equipment needed: Large rectangular casserole dish
  1. Preheat the broiler to high and ensure a rack is placed in the upper third of the oven.
  2. Boil the pasta according to package directions. It is best to work with warm pasta, so I would not recommend doing this too far in advance.
  3. In a medium sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
  4. Whisk in the flour until it slightly darkens in color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk (and/or cream) and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a heavy simmer and cook while stirring until the sauce thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, spread out the cooked noodles in a large casserole dish. Layer the fresh spinach (or other greens) on top. Once the sauce is done, evenly distribute it over top. Carefully fold the noodles and spinach together with the sauce.
  6. Add spoonful dollops of ricotta on top of the noodle mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella and then the Parmesan.
  7. Broil until browned and crispy on top, about 5 to 6 minutes (but watch closely since ovens do vary).
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.


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  • Comments

    1. |

      As written, I think this recipe would probably be three stars. But with a few changes, it bumped it up significantly. Here’s what I did:

      1. I cut back on the ricotta, probably by about half.
      2. I increased the Parmesan by 1/4 cup or so.
      3. I mixed the ricotta and Parmesan into the white sauce and added salt & pepper to taste. A number of reviewers mentioned it was bland as written. Add salt! It will do wonders.
      4. I cut up the spinach (mostly to appease my small children) and mixed everything except the mozzarella together. Then I topped it with the mozzarella and baked it, covered, at 375 for 20 minutes, then uncovered it and broiled it for a few minutes to brown the cheese.

      Also, this is just a matter of personal preference, but I did double the garlic. We are garlic lovers here!

    2. Janessa |

      I read quite a few reviews before trying this recipe out and decided it would be good to make some adjustments of my own as well. Here’s what I did:

      1/2 the butter
      1/2 the parm.
      1/2 the ricotta
      1/2 the moz.
      Add 1 zuccini chopped
      Add more spinach
      Add 1 green onion chopped
      Add two hand fulls of snow peas chopped
      Add an extra clove of garlic

      I also melted the ricotta and parm. into the sauce to make it extra thick with salt and pepper to taste.
      Instead of layering the dish I mixed it all together with tongs- picking everything up and folding it over itself until all of the ingredients had been coated in sauce. I topped it with about 8oz of moz. and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes…. IT WAS FANTASTIC. My husband and I could hardly stop eating it. Plenty gooey, and tons more flavor! It was like comfort food had pleasantly surprised us. I highly recommend making these adjustments!

    3. Anna |

      Would this freeze well?

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi. Yes! This dish is good one to freeze.

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