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.