pasta inside out

I love fresh filled pasta such as tortellini and ravioli, but most of the time I just do not have the time to make it myself, and the store-bought are not an option for me (too far from my standard!).

Since I truly miss its taste, I came up with a compromise solution: what if I used the filling ingredients to create a sauce instead?

So I created a version of one of the most popular meatless pasta, made with ricotta cheese and spinach, from the Parma area where I lived for some time. You can also substitute spinach for small sized chards, or stinging nettles, which have an even deeper herbaceous flavor than spinach.

I have to say the result is pretty amazing! The smooth, velvety ricotta is enhanced by the greens and kissed by the deeply aromatic sage, perfectly recreating the taste of authentic tortelli di erbette.

The use of fresh greens (not frozen) and good quality ricotta is strictly recommended. As my app users already know, I suggest buying artisanal ricotta when available, and my preferred industrial brands are Calabro and Belgioioso ricotta con latte.


Prep and Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4


  • 12 oz. egg pasta (tagliatelle or any short shape) or 1 lb. short shaped durum semolina pasta
  • 5 oz. of cleaned greens (spinach, stinging nettles, small sized chard)
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated, plus more to pass at the table
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • To taste – freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese (usually 1/2 container)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • A dozen sage leaves



  • Large pot
  • Medium pot
  • Colander
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large prep bowl
  • A small skillet
pasta di magrospinach and egg pasta
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring one inch of water to a boil.When the water is boiling in the medium pot, toss in the greens and cook for about 1 minute (chards and stinging nettles may need 5 minutes).When the water is boiling in the large pot, toss in the pasta to cook. Time the pasta in order to drain al dente.Drain the greens in a colander and squeeze out as much water as you can. spinach squeezed
Place greens on a cutting board and cut them into ½-inch squares. greens on cutting board
In a large prep bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add the cooked greens and stir. salsa di magro con ricotta
In a small skillet, brown the butter with the sage leaves. Turn off the heat and wait for the pasta to be cooked. brown butter with sage
Drain the pasta when it is al dente, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Toss the pasta into the large bowl (or return to the cooking pot if the bowl is not large enough). pasta con ricotta
Stir in the mixture of cheese and greens, adding some of the reserved cooking water if it seems too dry. You will likely need to use ½ cup of the reserved water.Pour the browned butter and sage on top, toss and serve with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to pass at the table. pasta and brown butter sauce
Pasta with greens and ricotta

Buon Appetito!

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