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
- 1 pound whole-wheat pasta, rigatoni
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 onion, large, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
- 2 cups milk, or cream, or a combination
- pinch nutmeg
- 5 ounces spinach, fresh (or a combination of spinach/Swiss chard/kale, sometimes labeled as "Power Mix")
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, diced or shredded
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the broiler to high and ensure a rack is placed in the upper third of the oven.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Add spoonful dollops of ricotta on top of the noodle mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella and then the Parmesan.
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.