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!
96 thoughts on “Unstuffed Pasta Florentine”
Should this be frozen totally cooked? Or without doing step 7?
You can reserve step 7 for when you reheat.
Would this freeze well?
Hi. Yes! This dish is good one to freeze.
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!
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!
Very good but bland, is there a spec for salt?
Hi Jae. You can, of course, add salt to taste. ~Amy
Would this be a good meal to freeze?
Yep, it freezes well. :)
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 â€¦. 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!! ;)
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!!
Are canned artichokes ok to use and is there anything to look out for?
Hi Tara. Canned or jarred are fine. There shouldn’t be added ingredients. ~Amy
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?
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
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…
Hi Mollie. We usually are not able to respond in real time. Sorry. What did you do? ~Amy
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.
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!!
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 sautÃ©ed 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.
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.
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!
Oh my gosh…my mouth is watering now. Totally making this on the weekend!
There is so much Cheese, Butter and Whole milk usage in these recipes. This is my 7th week of doing these recipes and I feel I have put on some lbs. I feel like I might get CHOL or BP or somethin. The family here is very lean and look fit and might have time for doing good amount of excercise. It might work for them, but for someone like us, very less excercise with corporate america desk jobs and regular weight (BMI is well within the range but still trying to loose some weight), I doubt it. Its Real food but not necessarily healthy for all. The family is trying to follow how ppl ate in yester years with out considering the fact how the lifestyle and world has changed from then.. People would walk everywhere, there was lesser pollution and lot less stress and various other factors.
Of course is a dish with many calories. It contains pasta, cheese and besamel. If you want to make it with less calories, change butter with 5 spoons of olive oil, put just milk and add just one cup of parmesan. It not a food for everyday but for special dinners. If you have a healthy way of life it is ok to eat it sometimes.
Also this site is about real food and not for low calories dishes.
You could always save this for what is known as a “cheat” meal. That’s what I’m planning on doing as I eat mainly paleo-style 6 days a week and then have a “cheat” day on the 7th where I have whatever I want. There are a TON of real food recipes that don’t have as many carbs or calories (though I don’t actively count them anymore, myself).
Yum! This sounds delicious. Will this be added to the recipe index? Are there other recipes on the blog not listed in the index? I just want to make sure I can find it again. :)
Hi Laura. It will and you can always search for the archived post as well. That is true for all posts. :) ~Amy
Delicious – lots of cheese so if that’s not your thing, you can cut it back a little bit. Especially broiling it at the end and getting that chewy golden brown melty cheese on top was the best part. I might try it again with added cooked Chicken breast or something – could be a complete meal1
I made this last night with my 14 yr old daughter helping. We added 1 lb of cooked Italian sausage (elk) also. I loved the pinch of nutmeg in the sauce – gave it a little rounder flavor. Added just the right touch. Only thing I would change is add some salt in somewhere (maybe the sauce?) and possibly bake a bit to make it extra warm. It was fabulous re-heated for lunch today!!
Now here is a pasta recipe worth sinking your teeth into! Oh yum!!!!
Is the ingredient list really correct? If I convert it into weight (sorry, can’t get used to this cup-stuff) it results in about 150g spinach, 750 g (!) cheese and 500 g pasta. That does not sound too promising. A kid’s menu at McD might be the healthier option.
I totally agree.
I hate to say it, but I’m Sicilian and I had my doubts with this recipe. I was in a pinch one night and decided to make it and it was GREAT! I made a few changes (added Romano/Parmesan blend shredded cheese and a little chicken bouillon, and omitted the nutmeg – also baked for 25 minutes) and it was a huge hit. Thanks for the recipe!