Friday, March 23, 2007

Taking a step out of baked pasta...

Typically when we make a baked pasta dish, you need to haul out the big pot, wait for it to boil and then allow for the time it takes to cook so you can continue making the recipe. What attracted me to try tonight's recipe, Spinach Ricotta Rotini, is that you do not pre-cook the pasta - it is added dry to the wet ingredients and they bake together. This makes for a no-fuss recipe with minimal dishes - great for those frazzled weeknights.

The dry rotini pasta swims in a mixture of ricotta cheese, evaporated milk, water, italian herbs, Dijon mustard, a dash of fresh nutmeg, spinach and chopped ham in a large baking dish. This is placed in the oven to bake for about a half hour - the only work you need to do is to stir it twice during that time. As it gets closer to the 30 minute mark, you will notice how thick the liquid turned and how the pasta has gotten tender without turning to mush. For a fantastic finish, fresh bread crumbs and asiago cheese are scattered on top of the hot pasta and it goes back into the oven until it turns crispy and golden. This dish has a creamy, but not soggy or wet consistency to it and after a 10 minute rest, could easily be cut into and held its shape well - much like a lasagna. Using evaporated milk gave a nice rich mouth feel to the dish, but kept it a little lighter than if you used heavy cream. The diced ham gave a nice salty counterpoint, but you could keep this an all-veggie dish by replacing the ham with chickpeas or maybe even some meaty sautéed portobellos.


  1. Hey Joe, I see this recipe is from Canadian Living. Do you subscribe? If not, how do you find the recipes?

  2. Hi Randi - I think you've asked that before... hee hee! I have a friend that sends me recipes that they think we would like to try/modify from Canada. I wonder if they let US people subscribe though, I've never looked to see!

  3. This dish looks very good Joe!

  4. I made this tonight for my wife and two year old son. I substituted cottage cheese and lentils for the ricotta and ham...WOW! Thank you for the posting, we'll definitely be back for more.

    btw - We live in Rochester, MN somewhat close to Albert Lea ;-)

  5. Ana - Thanks

    Mike - Those changes sound excellent, glad it worked out for you! I went to Rochester quite often, great city!