This is an incredibly easy pasta dish from America’s Test Kitchen that features the classic combination of spinach and ricotta, without the extra work of stuffing shells or ravioli. It makes a great lunch for 4 people, and while the ingredients are simple, it delivers a first class meal. It’s well worth seeking out the best ricotta, or even making homemade ricotta in advance.
12 ounces (1 ½ cups) Bellwether Farms whole-milk ricotta cheese, or your favorite artisan ricotta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pound fusilli
1 pound (16 cups) baby spinach, chopped coarse
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1.Whisk 1 cup ricotta, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until smooth. You may need to add a little more olive oil to get a smooth consistency; set aside.
2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente (cooking according to box instructions, usually 11-12 min). Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Stir spinach into pot with pasta and cook until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain pasta and spinach and return them to pot.
3. As the pasta cooks, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, nutmeg, and cayenne in saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and whisk in remaining ricotta, heavy cream, lemon zest and juice, and 3/4 teaspoon salt until smooth; set aside.
4. Add ricotta-cream mixture from step 3 and Parmesan to pasta and toss to combine. Let pasta rest, tossing frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly and coats pasta, 2 to 4 minutes, adjusting consistency with reserved cooking water as needed. Serve the pasta in a wide bowl or plate and add a dollop of the ricotta from step 1. Sprinkle each serving with extra Parmesan, extra lemon zest and a drizzle of high qulaity extra virgin olive oil.