; Supermarket Serenade: Rigatoni with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rigatoni with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta


Did you know that an entire box of Rigatoni is actually 8 servings? You probably did. Sadly in our house a box of Rigatoni often provides only 4 servings. Is this why Americans are fat? When I look at the box it doesn't look like that much. Even when the pasta is cooked, drained and covered with sauce it doesn't really look to me like it could feed 8. My 16 year old could easily polish off a half a box so that leaves just enough for my 14 year old forget about my 12 year old, my husband and me.

I am making an effort to be more serving size conscious (at least for me-I'm not going to worry too much about my 6 foot tall, skinny sons). That 1 serving with no additional ingredients added represents 210 calories, so if my serving is typically twice that, my starting point with just pasta would be 420 calories. Add to that oil or butter, cheeses or meats and I'm putting myself in dangerous calorie territory. So to be safe for this pasta dish I'm only cooking 1/2 of the box and I'll let everyone else fill up on salad and veggies and maybe bread.

The highlight of this dish I think is the ricotta cheese. Ricotta cheese is a grainy cheese made from whey that is drained off during the process of making other cheeses such as mozzarella and provolone. Frequently used in Italian cooking-most notably lasagna-it has a texture similar to cottage cheese. It can be found in the cheese section of the supermarket usually near the sour cream and cream cheese. I usually buy the part skim ricotta-if you buy a good quality brand the part skim version can taste just as good as the whole milk version so be picky.
Rigatoni with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

3 cups diced butternut squash
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 ounces Rigatoni pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups fresh spinach, packed
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese, room temperature
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Arrange the butternut squash in an even layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the ground pepper. Roast in the oven until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water just until tender; drain.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in the garlic and the spinach.
Cook until the spinach wilts slightly. Stir in the cooked pasta and the butternut squash. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the ricotta cheese a spoonful at a time and stir gently. Serve immediately with the grated Parmesan cheese.

19 comments:

That Girl said...

This is a fabulous autumn dinner!

Barbara Bakes said...

Your pasta sounds delicious! I agree about the serving sizes being hard to judge. I think sometimes they are intentionally misleading. Have you tried the whole wheat pastas?

Emily said...

Beautiful! Great recipes like this keep me cooking (and eating!) Love it!

smörgåsbroad said...

that looks terrif! (as in terrific, not terrifying...i have now made my abbreviation pointless.)

wow, i knew a serving size of pasta was less than i usually eat...but that small?? eek! beefing it up with good-for-you stuff like squash and spinach is a good way to go, then.

Veronica said...

Barbara Bakes-I have tried whole pastas and use them often I particularly like the Trader Joe's whole wheat/flax pasta.

RecipeGirl said...

I love the idea of chunks of butternut squash within a pasta dish. Looks great. And yes, we only get 4 servings out of a box too! I guess we should be rethinking that a bit.

Maria said...

Added to the list of MUST make, love this recipe!

Mary said...

What a wonderful fall dinner. Your photos are really beautiful. Re: amount of pasta---start by cutting back to 12-oz. but don't tell anyone. Serve as usual.

Allie said...

I thought I was the only one that felt like Rigatoni seems like it only serves 4! Great looking recipe!!

Aggie said...

I hear ya on the pasta portions...it's so hard to control! This pasta dish looks unbelievable! Love it!

Grace said...

i prefer to remain blissfully ignorant about calories and the like. yes, i'm deluded, but it's a happier life. :)
your pasta is beautiful and chock-full of healthy stuff. think of the nutrients in that second helping! :)

Candy said...

Oh didn't anyone tell you that pasta doesn't have any calories if you mix it with vegetables? That dish looks so tasty, I'll take two servings please.

Bridgett said...

I always make a whole box and end up with loads of leftovers! The last picture looks mouthwatering and I love the cheese oozing all over, but I believe the best part was the veggies.

Jen said...

Just found your site... Can't wait to try this recipe. Keep up the good work!

OhioMom said...

Oh yes, I am loving this dish!

Anne said...

Yum- that looks wonderful and perfect for fall!

Hillary said...

That pasta dish looks so good. I made some rigatoni the other night too and I know what you mean about pasta servings. I definitely eat like 2-3 "servings". Honestly, I always thought the serving size was just a standard by which to base the nutritional information, not what you're supposed to eat in one sitting.

Live.Love.Eat said...

This looks simple and delicious!!!! I love ricotta in it too! Giada is big on that!!!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Looks great! I love the ricotta butternut squash combo. I made a pizza with those two together not too long ago.