Spinach Ricotta Pasta Bake is made with creamy ricotta and loads of spinach stirred through pasta, topped with pasta sauce, cheese and then baked until bubbly and golden. It tastes like a Spinach and Ricotta stuffed shells – but way faster to make!
Fabulous lazy Monday meal – made from scratch, using my cheeky “shake and pour” shortcut pasta sauce!
Spinach and Ricotta
Spinach and ricotta. We stuff things with it (Cannelloni, Rotolo, shells!), we layer things with it, we roll it up in puff pastry and we wrap it in pastry.
So why don’t we stir it through pasta bakes?
This is a lazy Monday meal I’ve been making for years. I know it’s a little different, but it really is tasty. It tastes like spinach and ricotta cannelloni or stuffed shells – but without the labour. 🙌🏻
Look at this pile of gooey, juicy deliciousness….no dry ricotta in MY pasta bakes!
Shake and pour pasta sauce!
Because this is a lazy meal, I make this with my shortcut homemade pasta sauce. It’s a shortcut recipe because I don’t cook it on the stove with sautéed onions and garlic like I ordinarily do. All I do is add pasta sauce flavourings right into a bottle of tomato passata, shake then pour it over the pasta bake.
To compensate for skipping the sautéed garlic and onions, I add extra flavours into the sauce. 🙂
Sub for tomato passata?
Tomato passata is pureed strained raw tomatoes, unflavoured. It’s sold in tall bottles in the pasta section of most supermarkets in Australia nowadays, and costs around the same as canned tomato. If you’re in the US or Canada, I’ve seen it at Walmart and here are a couple of Amazon – Mutti (excellent Italian brand I use) and Cento (a good value one). Or sub with what you know as tomato sauce.
What goes in Spinach Ricotta Pasta Bake
Here’s a snapshot of the ingredients. For convenience, I use frozen spinach here but fresh can be used in a cinch.
As for the ricotta, any type will work here. Some are creamier and softer than others which makes it easy to mix into the pasta.
If yours is the thicker more crumbly type, it’s an easy fix – just stir through some of the pasta cooking water to loosen it up. The starch in the pasta cooking water will make the ricotta mixture bind better than using normal water or milk to loosen the mixture. The same effect as tossing pasta through pasta sauces right before serving – it’s called emulsifying the sauce (what a show off!😂).
This really does taste like a Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni* – without the fiddly stuffing of the cannelloni tubes. Because as much as we all love eating those stuffed tubes of pasta smothered in tomato sauce and molten cheese, nobody’s jumping off the couch to offer to help stuff them. Right?? 😂
So – are you feeling lazy today too? -Nagi x
* For those of you in the US & Canada – cannelloni is basically the same as manicotti, except the tubes are slightly smaller and smooth, no ridges. Just as tasty!
All things Spinach and Ricotta!
Baked Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo – and it tastes as spectacular as it looks!
And more big juicy pasta bakes
Cheeseburger Casserole (Homemade Hamburger Helper) – OK, so it’s not baked, but it looks like a pasta bake!
Chili Mac and Cheese – ditto for this one 🙂
Watch how to make it
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Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Bake
- 300g / 10 oz ziti pasta, uncooked, or other short pasta of choice
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese , shredded (or more! For topping)
- 1 lb / 500 g ricotta (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese , grated
- 2 garlic cloves , crushed
- 350g / 12oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid pressed out
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded
- 3/4 tsp salt & pepper
Shortcut Pasta Sauce
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 700g / 24oz tomato passata (1 standard bottle) (Note 2)
- 1 tsp EACH onion and garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried Italian Mixed Herbs (Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes , to taste (optional)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 2 tbsp water (if needed)
- Parmesan cheese , grated
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Pasta Sauce: Pour out about 1/4 cup of the passata (to make room to add flavourings). Add the remaining Pasta Sauce ingredients into the bottle, screw the lid on and give it a shake.
- Cook pasta for time per packet MINUS 1 minute.
- SCOOP OUT 1 mugful pasta cooking water, drain and set aside.
- Ricotta Mixture - Mix Ricotta Mixture ingredients in a very large bowl. Use a splash of pasta cooking water if needed to make it creamy.
- Add pasta and stir to combine. Transfer to a heatproof baking dish.
- Top with Pasta Sauce, top with cheese. Loosely cover with foil.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve while hot and fresh!
Originally published September 2015, updated April 2019 with fresh new photos, new writing, new video and most importantly, Life of Dozer section added!
Life of Dozer
Reaping the rewards of the Easter Egg Hunt!
PS Don’t worry, it’s a dog friendly Easter egg!
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