This was thought to be Michelangelo’s favorite pasta. Well, not the pasta made with squash and a Veggetti slicer, but fettuccine with creamy ricotta and sauteed spinach tossed with pine nuts and raisins. I’ve prepared it both ways and it’s absolutely delicious made with real pasta, but it is equally as good made with my squash pasta. When I’m trying to be easy on carbs, I use squash instead of real fettuccine. And it’s gluten free! I think you should try it both ways to compare the difference.
This recipe comes from me trying to recreate a pasta dish I had in Rome. You may be tempted to call this recipe Fettuccine Alfredo but please don’t because I learned in Italy that there is no such dish with that name. I also learned that pasta is a first course dish that comes before salad.
Then, start making the squash pasta with a Vegetti or use a flat pasta. Do not start boiling the pasta if you’re using the “real deal” for pasta. The sauce should be made first and be waiting on the pasta to cook. When the sauce is made, put about a half of a package in salted boiling water. Do not rinse with water or add oil because the sauce will not stick to your pasta. If you want to eat like an Italian, don’t break it either. Start on the outer edge of your plate and just swirl it around your fork and let it grab the sauce. It’s so good.
Then toast about 1/2 cup of pine nuts in olive oil. This doesn’t take long so be careful not to burn them. As you can see in my picture, I burned a few. They should be golden brown, not dark and especially not black. Remove them to saute’ the spinach or if they aren’t to dark, you can leave them in the skillet and start sauteing them together.
Use about 4 cups of fresh spinach. I like to roughly chop the spinach before I saute’ it. Add the raisins when the spinach starts to wilt. Sprinkle this with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
The creamy sauce comes from the ricotta, and the best type I’ve found is Sorrento brand. The texture is smooth and creamy, not gritty and tasteless. Of course, there’s none I’ve found to compare to that I had in Sicily. If anyone knows of a brand that is better, please post in the comment section. I add about 1/2 cup of ricotta to the sauteed spinach, pine nuts, and raisins. Stir it together until the ricotta is dissolved and well blended. Turn off the heat and wait for the pasta to be cooked.
For the squash pasta, I saute it lightly in a separate skillet. I add a little vegetable broth (about a 1/2 cup) to the skillet and add it to my sauce later. If your squash pasta strands are too long, you may have to chop them into pasta length sections. Just remember not to do this if you are making this recipe with the real pasta.
Add the pasta to the skillet of sauce (remember not to rinse). Stir the pasta into the sauce until it is well blended. Add a some of the vegetable broth to the sauce or if you’re using real pasta, add a ladle full of the pasta water. Scoop on your plate and add fresh parsley or grated Parmesan cheese. I eat this as my main course, but James usually has fish with his.
This creamy pasta dish looks so good on the plate. Friends will think you spent hours on it, but it is quick and easy.
- 6 oz. pine nuts
- ¼ cup white raisins, soaked in water
- 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 4 large squash or flat pasta, fettuccine type
- ¾ cups ricotta cheese, I like Sorrento brand, but any quality type will work
- ¼ cup vegetable broth or the liquid from the boiled pasta
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon (approx) nutmeg, I just sprinkle and taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, soak the raisins in water to soften and plump them up.
- If you are using squash for the pasta, start to prepare it with a Veggetti slicer. For real pasta, wait until sauce is ready so you don't overcook the pasta.
- In a skillet, toast pine nuts in olive oil until golden brown.
- Remove pine nuts from skillet and set aside to make sure they do not get too brown while you saute' the spinach.
- Saute' the spinach. When it starts to wilt, add the raisins and pine nuts.
- When the spinach is wilted, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Add the ricotta and blend until smooth
- Remove from heat while the pasta cooks.
- For the Veggetti squash pasta, begin cooking it in a separate skillet with a little olive oil and vegetable broth until it is tender. For the real pasta, add to salted, boiling water and cook until tender.
- When the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce and stir it until the sauce coats the pasta.
- Add a ladle full of pasta water or vegetable broth.
- Serve with freshly, grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.
- Drizzle with a small amount of quality olive oil and add a sprinkle of parsley (optional)