Low-Fat Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

The Spruce
Ratings (104)
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 8 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
500 Calories
8g Fat
78g Carbs
31g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 500
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 986mg 43%
Total Carbohydrate 78g 28%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Protein 31g
Calcium 472mg 36%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(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.

Ingredients

  • 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. Gather the ingredients.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. 

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe
     The Spruce
  3. 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.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta
     The Spruce
  4. Add spinach and basil to the skillet and stir until wilted.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe
    The Spruce 
  5. Then add ricotta cheese and milk (and optional lemon juice and zest) to skillet and stir well.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup or so of the cooking water.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe
     The Spruce
  7. 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.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe
     The Spruce
  8. 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.

    Spinach and Ricotta Pasta recipe
     The Spruce