Recipe: Unstuffed Pasta Florentine

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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


3.8 from 13 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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89 comments to Recipe: Unstuffed Pasta Florentine

  • April

    I have made this twice, and it’s so good! I love the creamy sauce. I actually baked it on 400 instead of broiling it b/c my oven is awful. I added some diced tomatoes, and I actually liked it better this time!

  • Leslie

    A big letdown :( I was super excited to try this recipe. Unfortunately it just wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I found it pretty bland and under-seasoned. I didn’t like the way it was layered. If I were to make it again (which I doubt) I would probably try mixing it all together and topping it with mozzarella instead of layering it. Also, the broiling method didn’t really heat it all the way through. I would probably bake it and then maybe broil at the end. Also, I don’t really think this is very “healthy”. You have about 4-1/2 cups of various cheeses, 2 cups of milk/cream and only 5 ounces of spinach. Sorry, I wish I liked it better.

  • Deidra

    For those of you that say this isn’t healthy, I made a few substitutions and it turned out well: I replaced half of the milk with chicken broth, decreased the ricotta to 1/2 cup and cut the mozz down to 1/2 cup as well. I omitted the Parmesan and cut the butter in half. I added a container of mushrooms (I sautéed them with the onion until they released their moisture). Very good and healthier. I mixed it all together and sprinked with a tiny bit more cheese.

  • Sm

    I also felt this recipe was a little (or a lot)… unbalanced as written. We have a vegetable lasagna that has some similar flavors, so I decided to adapt a few elements of that and it turned out GREAT!!! Yum yum yum. My kids loved it, and my 2 year old even asked for thirds!

    The changes I made were:
    Add extra clove of garlic
    Decrease Parmesan to 1/2 cup and melt into white sauce
    Increase spinach to about 1/2 pound
    Add 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
    Add 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped small
    Omit ricotta cheese
    Stir together pasta, sauce, and veggies, and alternate half of pasta mixture with half of mozzarella, and repeat

    Bake at 400 until brown on top. Just so, so yummy!!

  • Linda

    This was delicious, albeit quite rich. I wanted to cut back on all the saturated fat, so I used half the butter, half the ricotta, and 2/3 of the mozzarella. It was still plenty cheesy and yummy. I think I’ll double the greens next time like some other folks have done.

  • Mollie

    I totally spaced out on the mozzarella , I have baby bell and mild cheddar… Any suggestion to replace it? I also add zucci and squash…

  • Brittany

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I will be trying this out for sure. While I am not vegetarian I do like to have a few meals here and there without the need to fill it with meat. Thank you! I also like that I can sneak in veggies here for my kids! Can I use almond milk in place of regular milk?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Brittany. While we have not tried, I think it might work. Almond milk is much more thin than a milk cream combination so it may not thicken up as well. Let us know if you experiment. ~Amy

  • Tara Williams

    Are canned artichokes ok to use and is there anything to look out for?

  • Sherryl

    We had this for dinner last night, and it was so delicious!

    I did adapt the recipe a bit based on some of the other reviews, but the end result was super tasty AND both of my picky children gobbled it up (I did add about 1/4 c red sauce on the top of theirs – they’re not fond of white sauces)

    We added sweet Italian sausage (1/2 lb) and mushrooms to ours. Used 3/4 c of ricotta and half the amount of the other cheeses (melted parm into sauce). Replaced 1 c of milk with chicken broth. I did have to add a bit of organic corn starch to help thicken the sauce (I think because I used the broth), but the dish came out beautifully!

    Thank you for sharing this with us!!

  • Heather Bee

    This is the first recipe on your website that my kids did not like. So that’s like 1 out of 47? ;) then again my kids hate ricotta cheese …. Who hates ricotta cheese?? Ah well. I loved it. I think next time I’ll add the greens to the sauce mixture and wilt it a bit first. And i suppose i should omit the ricotta cheese… Party poopers those kids!! ;)

  • Amy

    Would this be a good meal to freeze?

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