Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake, packed with lots of spinach, creamy ricotta and a deliciously rich tomato sauce. This is perfect cosy comfort food! Hearty, comforting and so delicious. This tasty, veggie pasta bake is great for when the weather turns cooler.
This spinach and ricotta pasta bake is one of our favourite veggie comfort food meals, it's rich and satisfying and perfect to come home to after a long day at work or school. And it is just the ticket for when the weather turns cooler.
This is propper cosy comfort food, it's tasty, filling and perfect for dinner. This pasta bake is packed with spinach, but don't worry the kids won't even notice that! Sometimes we need a few tricks up our sleeves to get them to eat their greens, am I right?
This is really great the next day too, that's if you have any leftover. This is so popular in my house I have to sneak the dish off the table before it's devoured! I usually make this when I have more time as it does take a little longer than some of my other pasta bakes. But don't let that put you off! You really don't want to miss out on this one!
How to Make Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake - Step by Step
- Saute the onion and celery until they are soft then add the garlic and oregano. Cook the garlic for a minute then pour in the passata. Stir in the balsamic vinegar then add a couple of sprigs of thyme and a dried bay leaf. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper, bring it to the boil then reduce the heat to low and leave it simmering until it has reduced and is thicker.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta. Cook the pasta until it is almost al dente. Saute the spinach in a little olive oil then leave that to cool slightly. Squeeze the spinach to get as much liquid out of it as you can then chop it.
- Add the ricotta, garlic, some vegetarian hard Italian cheese (parmesan if you're not veggie), chopped basil and the spinach to a mixing bowl. Grate in nutmeg, add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
- Mix everything in the bowl until it is combined.
- Drain the pasta then pour it into a large, deep casserole dish.
- Add the spinach and ricotta mixture to the pasta and gently mix it together. Making sure it is evenly mixed in with the pasta.
- Fish out the bay leaf and the thyme from the tomato sauce then carefully pour it over the pasta and ricotta. With a spoon make little wells in the pasta, this makes room for the sauce to fall down through the pasta to the bottom of the dish. Mix it in a little but very gently, you don't want to break the pasta. The sauce will spread out when it's cooking in the oven.
- Finally, sprinkle the grated mozzarella and some hard Italian cheese (parmesan if you're not veggie) over the pasta bake. Pop the casserole dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.
Tips for Making Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake:
- If you are short on time you can make the sauce a day or two before. Just pour it over the pasta cold, the oven time may be longer than that listed in the recipe.
- I like to make my own sauce for this however if you are stuck on time then you could use a good store-bought marinara sauce.
- For the cheese, full-fat ricotta and full-fat mozzarella will give you the best results for this pasta bake. However, I have used reduced fat mozzarella for the topping and that was almost as good!
- Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a day or two and like most pasta bakes this tastes even better the next day.
- I like to use large hollow pasta for this pasta bake, so the sauce and the spinach and ricotta can fall into it! Pennoni Rigati is perfect, penne or fusilli works very well too.
- When it comes to passata, try and get authentic Italian if you can. If you are in the US and can't find it the best substitution is tomato purée or take plain canned tomatoes and run them through a sieve.
This veggie pasta bake is very satisfying and is perfect on its own, however, I have served this with a green salad and some good garlic bread. Some great crusty bread is also a good idea if you are particularly hungry!
More Cosy Comfort Food Recipes You May Like:
- Pasta with Mushrooms & Spinach
- Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Spinach and Tomatoes
- Baked Eggs Florentine
- Veggie Pasta Bake with Cheesy Topping
- Pesto Pasta Bake
Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium white onion finely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- ½ tbsp dried oregano
- 1 24oz jar of passata (680g)
- ½ cup of water
- ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
For the pasta bake
- 8 oz baby spinach (350g)
- 18 oz ricotta (500g)
- 16 oz pasta (450g) I used Pennoni Rigati, penne or fusilli work very well too.
- ½ cup hard Italian cheese finely grated, you can use parmesan if you're not veggie.
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- A small handful of fresh basil chopped, plus more for serving
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 ¼ cup of mozzarella (125g) grated
To Make the Sauce
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and celery and saute until springy, about 5 minutes. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and ½ a tbsp of dried oregano to the pan then cook for another minute. Pour in the bottle of passata. Pour half a cup of water into the passata jar, put the lid back on tightly, shake the bottle then pour that into the saucepan too.Add ½ a tbsp of balsamic vinegar to the sauce along with 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme and 1 dried bay leaf. Stir the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to the boil then reduce to a simmer and leave to simmer, stirring often. Let the reduce until it is thick so it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
To Make the Pasta Bake
- Preheat the oven to 356F/ 180CBring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and until the pasta is almost al dente.
- In a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil then add the spinach and cook until wilted. You will need to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Once all the spinach is wilted and has cooled a bit squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. Roughly chop the spinach.
- Add the ricotta, ½ a cup of grated hard Italian cheese, 1 minced clove of garlic, the chopped basil and the spinach to a large mixing bowl. Grate in the nutmeg and season with salt and black pepper, about half a teaspoon of each should do.Mix everything together until it is combined.
- Pour the drained pasta into a large casserole dish. Add the spinach and ricotta mixture to the pasta. Gently mix the spinach and cheese through the pasta.Fish put the thyme and bay leaf from the tomato sauce. Pour the sauce over the pasta.Using a spoon make little wells in the pasta so the sauce falls through to the bottom of the dish. Gently mix the sauce in a little if you want. It will spread out when cooking though.
- Sprinkle the grated mozzarella and Italian hard cheese over the pasta. Then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling, the cheese has melted and some of the pasta edges are crispy. If you have made the sauce the day before this will take a little longer in the oven.
- Remove the pasta bake from the oven, leave it to cool slightly before serving. Serve with extra grated cheese, a sprinkling of chopped basil and some cracked black pepper.
- Nutritional Information is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is based on a serving of six.
- Cheese, full-fat cheese will give you the best results for this pasta bake. However, I have used a reduced fat mozzarella for the topping and that worked very well too.
- Pasta, I used Pennoni Rigata for this but penne, fusilli work very well too. I have also made this with whole wheat pasta which worked very well also. Try not to over cook the pasta when cooking it on the hob, if the pasta is too soft going into the oven it could end up a bit mushy!
- Passata, when it comes to passata, try and get authentic Italian if you can. If you are in the US and can't find it the best substitution is tomato purée or take plain canned tomatoes and run them through a sieve.
- Leftovers, any leftovers can be stored in the fridge once cooled. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave. You can freeze this but there may be some change in the texture due to the amount of cheese in it.
- Casserole Dish. I used a 24cm x 24cm (9.5 x 9.5 inch) square casserole dish for this.