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Farfalle with Baby Spinach, Walnuts, and Ricotta

Farfalle with Baby Spinach, Walnuts, and Ricotta

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  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup drained and thinly sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 3 6-ounce bags baby spinach
  • 1 pound farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and sauté until slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer nuts to small bowl; set aside. Add sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and crushed red pepper to same skillet. Sauté until garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add spinach in 3 batches and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes total.

  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons cooking liquid. Transfer reserved cooking liquid to large bowl; whisk in ricotta. Add walnuts, spinach mixture, and pasta; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing Parmesan cheese separately.

Recipe by Nancy Verde Barr,Reviews SectionThis was a quick and easy dinner. I substituted pine nuts instead of walnuts, but otherwise I stuck to the recipe. While it was good, it was just a little bland. I want to try it again with a little pancetta and chicken added and more red pepper flakes next time.

Hazelnut Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta Cream

The hazelnut pasta I used in this deliciously creamy and nutty pasta recipe comes from the Langhe hills in North Italy, home to the world’s best hazelnuts and birthplace of Nutella!

Tagliatelle di nocciola con spinacini, crema di ricotta e nocciole

On a recent trip to the beautiful Langhe hills in Piemonte, we visited a hazelnut farm. There, I indulged in my passion for all things hazelnut and bought a number of different products including hazelnut pasta (pasta made with hazelnut flour) and a divine local hazelnut and chocolate cream, which tastes very similar to a more famous local product, Nutella!

Hazelnuts in Piemonte.

The area I visited is pretty famous for its hazelnuts. Apart from the fact that these hazelnuts are considered by those in the know to be the best in the world, this is the birthplace of Nutella! Nutella was invented here by a pastry maker from Alba called Pietro Ferrero in 1946.

In the post war years, cacao was hard to come by and Mr. Ferrero ingeniously created a paste with local hazelnuts, sugar and just a little cacao. He called this paste ‘Giandujot’ after a famous local carnival character. Over the next 18 years the recipe for Ferrero’s paste was improved to make it more spreadable and in 1964 it was renamed ‘Nutella’.

Today the Ferrero company is still owned by the same family and they still use local hazelnuts for their products. Although given that the company produces Nutella in different countries and uses 25% of the world’s total hazelnut production, they, of course, also buy hazelnuts from other places.

Hazelnuts in Italian cuisine.

Italy is actually the second biggest producer of hazelnuts in the world, although production is mostly in only four regions Piemonte, Campania, Lazio and Sicily. Italians use hazelnuts in a vast array of confectionery products and ice-cream and to make liqueur such as Nocciolino or Frangelico. They also like to snack on them. However, hazelnuts aren’t used as much in making savoury dishes, unlike almonds, walnuts and pine nuts.

Having said that, hazelnuts are quite often used in risotto. Also, hazelnut flour is used to make hazelnut pasta in some hazelnut growing areas, particularly where I was in Piemonte. In Campania, they have a traditional recipe for pasta with hazelnuts and anchovies, which I have yet to try. Hazelnut pesto is also quite popular these days and definitely on my to-make list and hazelnuts are sometimes used in filled pasta recipes.

The pasta.

The hazelnut pasta I bought was dried tagliatelle, made with a mixture of hazelnut flour and normal durum wheat flour. This pasta really did have a wonderful nutty flavour and smell. So, I decided to cook it in a recipe that had only a sprinkling of nuts. I felt serving it with hazelnut pesto would have made it too nutty! Of course, this dish can be made with other pasta such as plain or spinach tagliatelle or fettuccine. I think short pasta would work well too!

Quick and easy to make.

This is a very simple recipe. Apart from the hazelnut pasta, it includes just fresh baby spinach, shallots, creamed ricotta, ground hazelnuts, a pinch of thyme and nutmeg and grated parmesan. Sounds delicious? It was!! Plus, it’s also really quick and easy to make. In fact, this recipe can be put together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. Perfect for the current hot weather we’re having. It’s just too hot right now to spend any length of time in the kitchen!

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Preparation Fusilli with walnut and baby spinach pesto

Bring salted water to a boil. In the meantime grate the pecorino and parmigiano cheese with an immersion blender. Add the garlic, the walnuts, the baby spinach and the extra virgin olive oil.

Blend again until smooth. Now cook the pasta in the boiling water for the time indicated and drain well. Season with the walnut and spinach pesto.


You’ll need just a few ingredients to enhance the taste of our pasta. With season’s vegetables, aromatic herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil you can have a different pasta dish every day, wholesome and genuine. Let yourself be inspired by our recipes and by the authentic taste of the real Pasta Toscana!

  • 150g/5½oz dried farfalle or tagliatelle
  • 200g/7oz fresh spinach or defrosted frozen spinach
  • 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 125g/4½oz ricotta
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp grated pecorino (or alternative vegetarian hard cheese)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, or until al dente. Drain and reserve a cupful of the cooking water.

If using fresh spinach, cook it with a splash of water in a saucepan for 1–2 minutes, or until wilted, then leave to cool. Squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach using your hands and roughly chop.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Once foaming, add the spinach, garlic, cooked pasta and a splash of the pasta cooking water and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more of the cooking water if needed. Add the ricotta and cook gently while mixing with two forks to break it up.

Farfalle with Baby Spinach, Walnuts, and Ricotta - Recipes

Fiori di Zucchine - Crispy delicious fried zucchini blossom filled with mozzarella cheese

Guazzetto Adriatico - Manila clams and mussels sautéed with garlic, white wine, red chili peppers, and oil

Spaghetti MammaMia - Diced Parma Prosciutto, fresh ricotta cheese, tomato sauce. Chef's favorite!

Farfalle Vegetariano - Bowtie pasta with zucchini , peas, artichokes, kalamata olives, with fresh tomato sauce

Spaghetti al Ragu' - Homemade ground beef ragout sauce (bolognese). Our daughter's favorite!

Pennette al Sor Alfredo - Chicken, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes in a cream sauce

Pennette in Salamandra - Baked penne with mozzarella cheese, ground beef sauce (bolognese) topped with bechamel. Our son's favorite!

Pennette al Salmone - Smoked salmon with creamy tomato vodka sauce

Linguine alla Puttanesca Arrabiata - Kalamata olives, capers in a spicy tomato sauce

Rigatoni Bella Principessa - Parma prosciutto, crumbled sausages, artichokes hearts in garlic oil white wine sauce

Rigatoni AmoreTestaccio (house specialty) - Slow cooked (3 hours!) short ribs with delicious tomato sauce (upon availability)

Rigatoni Sapore Mediterraneo - Crumbled sausage, marinara sauce & oregano topped with dry ricotta cheese

Gnocchi alla Pausini - Potato dumpling in a rich bolognese sauce

Gnocchi in Liguria - Potato dumpling in a creamy pesto sauce, topped with pine nuts & basil

Tortellini Biancaneve Innamorata - Cheese filled tortellini with crumbled sausage, peas, and mushrooms in a creamy truffle light sauce

Ravioli - Choice of our Beef or Cheese Ravioli in a creamy tomato garlic sauce

Melanzana alla Parmigiana - Housemade eggplant parmigiana

Lasagna Casareccia - Traditional Beef Lasagna with mozzarella cheese, bechamel, and tomato sauce

Linguine Amore della Mia Vita - Crab meat, capers, pine nuts, garlic, parsley in a tomato sauce. Topped with scampi. Sigrid's favorite!

Farfalle Aragosta Amore&Mare - Bow tie pasta with lobster meat, asparagus in a brandy creamy white sauce

Linguine alle Vongole - Fresh Manila clams with white wine sauce

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare - Shrimp, calamari, mussels, and clams with spicy tomato sauce (white wine sauce available)

Our Pastas portions are 8 ozs. Please ask your server if you wish to have a bigger size of pasta - $ 6 extra

Add chicken to any Pasta $4.50
Add Shrimp to any Pasta $5.50
Side of Meatballs (5) or Sausage $7.00

Gluten-free pasta or "zucchini pasta" is available. $2.00 extra.
Please allow 15/20 minutes.

Creamy One-Pot Pasta with Sausage with Spinach

Behold: the miracle that is one-pot pasta. Specifically, this luxuriously creamy one-pot pasta with sausage and spinach. This 30-minute meal is a cinch to make and tastes AMAZING, and is packed with a whole POUND of good-for-you spinach!

Honestly, I&rsquom not sure how I&rsquove gone so long as a food blogger without posting a one-pot pasta recipe. In case you haven&rsquot heard of it, it&rsquos a pasta dish that cooks in- you guessed it!- one pot.

The pasta cooks to perfection directly in the sauce, so you&rsquore left with the creamiest, most flavorful sauce ever as the starch from the pasta helps it cling to every bite, and the pasta absorbs the flavors as it cooks.

Seriously, I may never cook pasta the traditional way (separately, then adding it to the sauce, like in this five-ingredient pasta with bolognese sauce) again! (although, that bolognese recipe IS pretty yummy&hellip)

This recipe features smoked sausage (any kind, but I used a super yummy chicken andouille sausage to make it a bit lighter), frozen chopped spinach, and farfalle pasta, with parmesan cheese and heavy cream stirred in at the very end to make a creamy, luxurious sauce that melts into every bite.

I figure the pound of spinach and using chicken sausage instead of pork compensated for the use of heavy cream. That basically makes this a health food, right?

First, you&rsquoll cook the sausage in some olive oil in a large pot. I love using a dutch oven for things like this. It gets super hot, which helps give the sausage some good browned color.

Then, add some onions. The onions will sweat out liquid, which will help you dislodge any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pot from cooking the sausage.

The garlic should be added only after the onions are completely done cooking, as you only need to sauté them for about 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant. Time and again, I see recipes that require the onions and garlic to be sautéed together. This often results in burnt garlic, since it burns much faster than onions.

Do yourself a favor and get in the habit of adding garlic to almost anything you&rsquore sautéing at the very end, before adding any liquid.

Which brings me to the next part.

After you&rsquore done sautéing the sausage, onions, and garlic, add some chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or even water- this recipe is so flavorful it&rsquos OK if you don&rsquot use stock) to the pot, along with the frozen spinach.

You don&rsquot even need to defrost the spinach! Just toss it in. Easy peasy.

After the liquid comes to a boil, add the pasta, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 11 minutes.

The pasta will absorb all the yummy liquid and flavors from the sausage, onions, and garlic. You may need to stir it occasionally so it doesn&rsquot stick together, but I had to deal with a meltdown from my 8-month-old while this was cooking and didn&rsquot stir it, and it was fine.

After the pasta is done cooking, you&rsquoll stir in the parmesan cheese and heavy cream and cook only for another minute or so, until the cheese is melted and the sauce turns thick and creamy.

Good LORD. You&rsquore going to want to eat this every day!

Quick side story: I had to photograph this in the afternoon since it&rsquos winter and the sun sets early. Then, I had to LEAVE IT IN THE POT and wait for dinnertime. It took every ounce of self control. And actually I didn&rsquot do very well, since I went back to the pot every 10 minutes to sneak a bite or two.

I like this served with some more parmesan cheese (because, yum) and a little fresh cracked black pepper.

Speaking of pepper- you won&rsquot need to add much salt and pepper to this, since the sausage and cheese are already salty. After you&rsquore done stirring in the cream and cheese, give it a taste (or five) and see if you even need any more salt and pepper. I added just a little bit of salt to mine.

ONE MORE THING. In case you&rsquore wondering, this is super kid friendly. My toddler Zoey, who is starting to go through a picky eating phase, ate TWO BOWLS!

Lemon Ricotta & Spinach Pasta

Here’s something important to know about me: I generally don’t like to spend much time making dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook – but let’s be honest, besides the random lazy Sunday, who the heck has time for some of the elaborate three-hour dinner recipes floating around out there? Definitely not me, especially when I was practicing at a big law firm. I was lucky if I got home in time to make dinner at all, let alone spend hours on it. We ate dinner at 9 p.m. more often than not.

I often relied on quick stir-fries, sheet pan dinners, frozen meals from Trader Joe’s, or even good old PB&J if we were really desperate. And pasta – lots of pasta. I think pasta is one of the greatest blank slates there is. You can literally throw whatever is hanging out in your fridge in there, and with the exception of perhaps chocolate (though I’d be willing to try), it will probably taste good. And it can be very quick – like this Lemon Ricotta & Spinach Pasta, which seriously takes 20 minutes from start to finish. Which gives you more time to make, say, cookies.

My best pasta dishes are usually born of a desire to use up something, and that’s exactly what happened here. I had a cup of ricotta cheese leftover from another recipe, some lemons, and spinach…and that’s really all I needed for this flavorful dish to come together! I love how simple and healthy these ingredients are. The simplicity really lets the flavors shine.

You can use whatever kind of pasta you want. I happen to like the way linguine looks and how the flat noodles hold the sauce, but I bet this would be good with spaghetti or farfalle as well.

We start, as most good recipes do, by cooking diced shallot and garlic in oil, and then adding fresh spinach. Cook the pasta in a separate pot of salted water while this is happening. The spinach always looks like a lot when you start, but it cooks down very fast!

Once the spinach is cooked, add the ricotta, juice and zest of one lemon, salt and pepper, and last but not least, some pasta water. If you haven’t done this before, believe me when I say it’s a serious game changer. I first learned to do this watching Giada on the Food Network, and have since learned that it’s a time-honored Italian trick for creating a creamy, starchy sauce that sticks to the pasta, without any cream. The water is starchy from the boiling noodles, and salty, and it helps everything coat the pasta evenly. It’s just awesome. Add a little to your jarred tomato sauces and see what a difference it makes! I just use a glass measuring cup to scoop some out of the pot near the end of the boiling time.

The other key here is tossing the hot pasta with the sauce quickly and thoroughly. Don’t drain the pasta – just transfer it directly to the skillet with tongs and toss toss toss. For an explanation and video of this technique, see this great feature Bon Appetit did a couple months ago on this method of pasta-making. Adam Rapoport is a boss.

So much creamy starchy goodness happening here. I wish I could send you the smell through the screen.

Keep tossing the pasta in the skillet with the sauce until it is fully and evenly coated. Now, taste it and make sure you’re happy with the salt/pepper ratio, and add more if necessary. Some red pepper flakes would also be delightful if you’re into that.

Plate it up and add some grated parmesan cheese on top. I’m partial to freshly grated and keep a block in my fridge at all times, but no judgment here – it’s a weeknight, you’re starving, use the green container (you know which one I’m talking about). No biggie. It’ll still be delicious.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and pat yourself on the back because you totally just dominated on a homemade dinner in 20 minutes. Let’s put this solidly in the “win” category for the week.

15 Minute Pasta with Spinach Ricotta Pesto

Spinach ricotta pesto is a great variation to the traditional pesto. It&rsquos ridiculously easy to make and comes together in about 3 minutes flat. Puree the spinach, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil with an immersion blender then add the ricotta and blend until smooth.

It&rsquos the first time I put ricotta into my pesto, and I think I like it even more than the classic pesto. It&rsquos fresh, creamy, thick and smooth, not to mention it&rsquos so delicious.

It&rsquos great with pasta of course but it can be served with potatoes, chicken, fish or as a spread on sandwiches, wraps, and pizza.

One of the things I love about pesto is that you can really get creative with the ingredients and customize it to suit your taste. You can substitute pine nuts with walnuts, almonds, pistachios or cashew nuts, replace the spinach with another leafy green, or swap the Parmesan cheese for pecorino.

Feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand: farfalle, penne, rigatoni, spaghetti, whole wheat, spelt, etc.

Spinach ricotta pesto will last in the refrigerator for about 3 days in an airtight container and it can easily be frozen.

If you try this recipe let me know what you think! Leave a comment and don&rsquot forget to take a picture and share it on my Facebook page or tag it #aseasyasapplepie on Instagram!


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