This easy Pasta with Ricotta recipe is made in one pot and takes just 20 minutes from start to finish! It has the flavor of stuffed pasta shells without all of the work, making this a crowd-pleasing weeknight dinner.
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The best part about this one-pot pasta is that it is so easy. It is literally 15 minutes from start to finish. But it tastes as if you spent a lot longer on it! The secret is the layers of flavor that you get from this delicious combination of ingredients.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Italian Sausage: I like to use hot Italian sausage, to give this dish a little extra flavor. But mild or sweet sausage could be used as well.
Vegetables: Spinach is a nutrient-rich vegetable that adds lots of vitamins to this dish. You could also use shredded zucchini, shredded carrots, or mushrooms! Chopped bell peppers are another wonderful addition.
Spaghetti Sauce: Instead of having to add a whole bunch of ingredients to flavor tomato sauce, this recipe uses spaghetti sauce that is already seasoned. I recommend Rao's Roasted Garlic spaghetti sauce, but you can use your favorite! If you want a saucier pasta then use 32 ounces instead of 24.
Pesto: Delallo is my favorite brand of pesto. It is so flavorful! I like to make this recipe when I have leftover pesto to use up. But in place of pesto, you could instead use ¼ cup of fresh basil, ¼ cup of Parmesan, and 2 cloves of garlic.
Pasta: Shaped pasta has a texture that holds up well to the weight of the other ingredients and does not get mushy, as can sometimes happen with a one-pot pasta. This time I used cellentani, and it worked well, but I prefer to use a textured pasta like fusilli and cavatappi as the sauce seems to adhere to it a little better.
Ricotta: The cool and creamy ricotta offers a welcomed break from the subtle spiciness of the pasta. It keeps the heat from building so that every bite can be enjoyed.
Step One: Cook the sausage.
Grab your favorite big pot and cook up some Italian sausage over medium heat.
Once it is cooked, pour it into a bowl and set it aside. This is the only dish that you will need to use in addition to the one pot. And it doesn't really count since it is a small item that can be thrown in the dishwasher, right?
Step Two: Saute the vegetables.
There is no need to wipe out the pan. The sausage bits will help season the rest of the dish. Add a teaspoon of oil and saute the onions and spinach until they are soft.
Step Three: Stir in the spaghetti sauce, pesto, red pepper, water, and pasta.
Bring everything to a boil and cook to the al dente recipe time that is directed on your pasta package.
Step Four: Mix the sausage back into the dish.
Step Five: Add the ricotta.
Small dollops of ricotta can be added to the pot, across the top of the pasta. Or you can add the ricotta once the ricotta has been portioned onto each individual plate.
When dishing up this pasta I like to sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil over the top, to add another dimension of flavor. If you have it, use it! But if you don't, the pasta will still be delicious.
- I like to keep it simple and serve this pasta with some steamed broccoli or a garden salad. Green beans are another great side dish.
- Pair with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir.
Frequently Asked Questions
With the increase of plant-based pastas on the market, it is really easy to make this recipe gluten free! I love chickpea or red lentil pasta with this recipe. Just check the labels on your other ingredients to make sure no gluten sneaks in.
It is best to add a little bit of additional moisture when reheating this pasta. I pour chicken broth or water over the top (a couple of tablespoons per serving) and heat on the stovetop over medium heat. It also microwaves well.
Pasta with Ricotta Recipe (One Pot)Recipe by:
- 1 lb hot Italian sausage
- 1 small onion (about ¾ cup finely chopped)
- 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped (about 2.5 ounces)
- 24 oz spaghetti sauce
- ¼ cup pesto
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- 3 cups water
- 1 lb shaped pasta (like Cavatappi, fusilli, or penne)
- 1 ½ cups Ricotta cheese
- Optional toppings: shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped basil
- In a large pot, brown sausage over medium heat until there is no pink. If there are large chunks, break into smaller nickel-sized pieces. Once cooked, pour into a bowl and set aside
- While sausage is cooking, chop your onion and spinach. Once sausage has been removed from pan, add 1 teaspoon of oil into pan and cook onion for 1 minute. Add in spinach and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
- Add pasta sauce, pesto, red pepper, water, and pasta to pan. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook according to the package directions for your pasta, stirring occasionally. (Ours was 9 minutes for al dente.)
- Add sausage back into the pan and stir until dispersed throughout pasta.
- To serve, spoon into bowls or on plates. Top with Parmesan and basil, if using.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop a heaping cloud of Ricotta and place it on top of the individual portion of the pasta. Serve immediately.