It’s pasta time: How to make lemonade from lemons

A confusing headline, I know. So, no, I’m not giving you a recipe for lemonade, rather, here’s a dish that I made recently after I had a major disaster with trying to make something else…

Without embarrassing myself too much, I will briefly confess that I tried to make my own ravioli, and it was a major flop. Wrong flour of course, and there was an hour of my life I will never get back. So there I was, with all my components ready, but the pasta dough was a bust. I had my tomato sauce done and I had a wonderful ricotta and fresh spinach filling made. But no pasta. There was no way I was going to throw away these wonderful ingredients, so I cooked up a bag of noodles, mixed it all together, grated some cheddar cheese over the top, and out came a most delicious baked pasta dish that I don’t even have a name for.

The moral of the story: Don’t throw anything away before you try to turn it into something edible (if you get lemons, make lemonade…)

Here’s my recipe for my salvaged Ricotta Spinach Pasta Bake (I guess that’s the name now).


Ricotta Spinach Pasta Bake


500g (1 lb) noodles (macaroni, penne, elbow) cooked according to directions

Tomato sauce

300 g (10 oz) fresh spinach (baby spinach is wonderful if you can get it) washed and chopped (Note: the so-called pre-washed spinach is always dirty, so I highly recommend washing it carefully in spite of what is promised on the packaging)

Fresh spinach before it's wilted

250 g (9 oz) ricotta cheese

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

50 g (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

50 g (2 oz) grated Cheddar or any other hard cheese

After one minute in the pan

How to do it

1. Cook the pasta.

2. Prepare the tomato sauce as per my recipe, omitting the red wine.

3. Wilt the spinach in dry pan over medium heat until it’s soft – this will take a couple of minutes only. Drain the spinach to get as much water out of it as you can, and let cool off.

4. Mix the spinach, ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, ground nutmeg and Parmesan cheese together.

5. Mix the pasta, sauce and ricotta mixture together and place in a large, greased oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese on top

Squeeze out all the water from the spinach

6. Bake for about 25 minutes at 170ºC (325ºF) for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is bubbling and starting to brown.

Serve with green salad.

Spinach and ricotta - a marriage made in heaven


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