So, growing up my mother made her “Pasta Florentine” often. Like, extremely often. I understand why she made it so often now, because it is very simple to make, but I would get very sick of it and complain (even at a young age – I wanted variety!) Then, I went to college and something crazy happened. I began craving this pasta like nobody’s business! I think it was because I went to college in the Midwest (in the Stone Age) when getting food like this wasn’t a thing. So, I would request this meal whenever I would come home to New York on holidays/breaks from school and now I am so grateful that I can make it for myself whenever the craving hits. I will say that a simple way to make this dish even more amazing is by using the freshest ingredients. The last time we made this pasta we bought everything at Eataly here in LA and used fresh pasta, fresh spinach, and fresh ricotta – it was fantastic! But you do not need an Eataly to make that happen – I think Whole Foods or a similar store would have good ingredients as well. Or you can always make it like we did when I was a kid - with dry pasta, frozen spinach, and regular ricotta – and that’s fine too! However you make this pasta – I promise it won’t disappoint!
- 1lb of Pasta (I suggest Fettucine, Tagliatelle, Farfalle) – you can use dry or fresh pasta – obviously, the fresh will taste better
- (1) 10oz Package of Frozen Chopped Spinach (or Fresh Baby Spinach – whatever you prefer)
- 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Large Shallot – or 2 Small Shallots (diced)
- 3 Garlic Cloves (minced)
- ½ lb Sweet Italian Sausage – out of the casing (or Hot Italian Sausage – you do you!) – the Sausage is completely optional if you are Vegetarian – I had this many times growing up without the Sausage
- Black Pepper
- (1) 15oz container of Ricotta Cheese (try to get Fresh Ricotta if you can)
- ¼ Cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ¼ Cup reserved Pasta Water (based on need)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil
- Meanwhile – in a large skillet heat up the Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Medium-High heat
- Put the Shallots into the skillet and sauté for a few minutes
- Put the Garlic into the skillet and sauté for one minute
- Add the Sausage and break up with a wooden spoon until cooked through (if not using sausage, skip this step)
- Grind some Pepper into this mixture
- Add the chopped Spinach and incorporate into the Sausage/Shallot mixture
- Turn the heat on the skillet to Low
- Put the Pasta in the boiling water – remember, if using Fresh Pasta this will cook quickly!
- Drain the cooked Pasta and return to the large pot
- Add all of the Ricotta to the pot and mix, mix, mix!
- Add all of the Sausage/Spinach mixture to the pot and toss, toss, toss!
- Add the reserved Pasta Water to the pot if you need to loosen it up a bit
- Add the grated Parm to the pot (by now your mouth should be watering)
- Add plenty of Black Pepper
- Serve and Enjoy!
You can also add Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to yours, but I would recommend adding to the individual dishes in case you have someone in the group who doesn’t appreciate it. You should also serve this with nice, warm bread (and butter) and wine, of course,
to make the experience complete! Enjoy!