Low-Fat Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

The Spruce
Ratings (102)
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 8 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
500 Calories
8g Fat
78g Carbs
31g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Quick-and-easy spinach and ricotta pasta will satisfy any craving for a decadent and creamy pasta, but this one is low-fat!

With its smooth texture and rich taste, you won't believe it's a healthy choice. The low-fat ricotta cheese replaces the high-fat cream found in similar creamy white pasta dishes, while the spinach and basil bring color, fiber, and freshness to the bowl. 

This dish takes about 20 minutes to prepare from start to finish. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, you can chop the onion and spinach. Once the pasta is cooking, you can go ahead and prepare the creamy sauce.

For people on gluten-free diets, simply replace regular pasta with your favorite gluten-free pasta. Tinkyada is a good brand because it holds its texture.

This recipe can be served as a side-dish or a weeknight vegetarian meal. But, when fleshed out with grilled chicken breast, roasted salmon, or grilled vegetables, it can become a good candidate for entertaining.

If you like, adding 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan to each serving won't bump up the fat grams too much, and lemon added to the ricotta mixture gives this dish a little extra brightness.


  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni (or penne or shell pasta)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach (roughly chopped)
  • 1 ounce fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup non-fat milk
  • Optional: freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon juice (and zest of 1/2 lemon)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated)

Steps to Make It

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. 

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't brown.

  3. Add spinach and basil to the skillet and stir until wilted.

  4. Then add ricotta cheese and milk (and optional lemon juice and zest) to skillet and stir well.

  5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup or so of the cooking water.

  6. Combine cooked pasta and ricotta mixture in a large bowl. If it is too thick, add a bit of the cooking water to the mixture.

  7. Serve immediately with some freshly ground black pepper and an optional 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese per serving. Can also serve this dish with a slice of whole-grain bread and a green salad with your favorite low-fat dressing or sliced tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar.