Baked Penne with Spinach, Ricotta & Fontina

Tested & Perfected Recipes

In this easy recipe, penne pasta is tossed in a creamy spinach and ricotta sauce, topped with cheese, and baked until golden brown.

spinach ricotta pasta

This easy weeknight pasta dish is a quick riff on spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Instead of stuffing pasta shells with the classic spinach and ricotta filling, I toss penne pasta in a creamy spinach, basil and ricotta sauce, top it with cheese, and then bake it until golden. You can get the pasta in the oven in just 20 minutes — toss a salad while it bakes and dinner is done!

What you’ll need to make Baked penne with spinach, ricotta & fontina

ingredients

how to make Baked penne with spinach, ricotta & fontina

To begin, cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente, about 9 minutes. (It will cook more in the oven so you don’t want it completely cooked.)

boiling-pasta

Drain the pasta, then place it back in the pan and set aside.

cooked-pasta

Meanwhile, drain the spinach.

spinach

And squeeze as dry as possible.

spinach-dry

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the dry spinach, basil, ricotta, cream cheese, half-and-half cream, 1 cup fontina, 3 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. (The cream cheese might seem like an odd addition but it prevents the ricotta from becoming grainy when it is heated.)

spinach-and-cheese-mixture-1

Process until puréed.

spinach-and-cheese-mixture-2

Add the spinach mixture to the pasta and stir to combine.

pasta-in-sauce

Transfer to a ceramic baking dish.

pasta-in-dish

Top with the remaining fontina and Parmigiano Reggiano.

ready-to-bake

Bake until the pasta is bubbling and the top is golden in spots, about 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

baked-penne-spinach-ricotta-fontina-3

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Baked Penne with Spinach, Ricotta & Fontina

In this easy recipe, penne pasta is tossed in a creamy spinach and ricotta sauce, topped with cheese, and baked until golden brown.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne
  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 6 oz (2 cups) grated fontina, divided
  • 5 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch ceramic baking dish.
  2. Cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente, about 9 minutes. (It will cook more in the oven so you don’t want it completely cooked.) Drain, then place the cooked penne back in the pan and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the spinach, basil, ricotta, cream cheese, half-and-half, 1 cup of the fontina, 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Process until puréed.
  4. Add the spinach mixture to the pasta and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining fontina and Parmigiano Reggiano. Bake until the pasta is bubbling and the top is golden in spots, about 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 692
  • Fat: 34 g
  • Saturated fat: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 65 g
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 31 g
  • Sodium: 956 mg
  • Cholesterol: 112 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Deeeeelicious! Minor adjustments, for those who are curious: I used fresh spinach (takes 1 minute to pan-cook) instead of frozen, substituted mozzarella for ricotta because we like it better, and used a bit higher pasta-to-sauce ratio. (To be exact: I cooked the whole pound of pasta intending only to use half for this purpose, and made half the sauce. Once combined, I decided to use 2/3 of cooked pasta, and that turned out perfect for us.) Jen’s recipes are the best!!

    • — Laurie on October 2, 2019
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this twice….the first time was a few years ago and everything turned out fine….second time I took this to a friend’s house and it was dry….I made it yesterday and will bake it today…I will use your suggestion of covering it for at least half the cooking time….do you think I should add more half & half before cooking it, just to be sure? I will be cooking it at 350…
    Thanks for your help….I really want this to turn out as most of my guests are very familiar with your name around my house!! LOL!
    I wanted simple, easy to handle desserts so I made your lemon squares, pecan pie squares & cheesecake squares, in advance….They all froze well….I got specific requests to make these!! Your name is common now among my tennis friends and they call ahead and let me know what recipe of yours they want me to bring!!

    • — Wendy Schoenburg on September 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, so glad you enjoy the recipes (and I’m flattered that your friends and family know my name)! 🙂 And while I don’t think adding a bit of half and half before baking it can hurt, if you keep it covered with foil for half the baking time, it may not be necessary. Hope that helps and that everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I have a substitution question. I just used up all the fresh basil I bought at the farmers market to make your walnut kale pesto. Our family absolutely loved it! I want to make this pasta dish but since I’m out of basil do you think I could use some of the walnut kale pesto instead without it making a huge difference? If you think this substitution would work, how much pesto would you recommend to replace the 1/2 cup of basil in this recipe? Thanks in advance!

    • — Bry on August 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Bry, Glad you enjoyed the pesto! Yes, I think you could get away with using it in this penne. I’d suggest 2 to 3 tablespoons. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 16, 2019
      • Reply
      • Hi Jen, we did end up making this recipe and subbed 1/4 cup of the pesto for the basil, as we love basil here. The cheese sauce was amazing out of the food processor, my son could not stop tasting it. Once cooked with the pasta it was yummy, but not quite as flavourful as hoped. Very good, but next time I think we will replace the noodles with cauliflower for a slightly lighter alternative. The sauce would probably be great with zoodles as well (although the kale walnut pesto was amazing on it’s own with the zoodles). Thanks for the reply, we appreciate all of your time spent on your recipes and answering questions!

        • — Bry on August 17, 2019
        • Reply
  • This is on my list of recipes to try this week. My family won’t eat anything without meat in it though, so I’d have to add something. Any recommendations?

    • — Kia Hiller on August 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Kia, I probably wouldn’t add any meat to this but you could definitely serve some grilled chicken, salmon, or Italian sausage on the side.

      • — Jenn on August 11, 2019
      • Reply
      • That’s what I’ll do, thanks!

        • — Kia on August 11, 2019
        • Reply
  • This was a hit twice over! First, I made it for my Italian friend and her mother. My friend had just had a baby and this was one of the fridge meals I brought over. They raved about it!! The second was for a “girls night in”. One of my girlfriends doesn’t eat beef or chicken so I needed a hearty main with no meat. This was perfection!

    • — Colleen on June 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can this be frozen before baking, and then thawed and baked?

    Thanks,
    Carmina

    • — Carmina Gagliardi on April 27, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Carmina, this has a lot of dairy so I’ve hesitated to tell people that it’s okay to freeze. However, a few readers have commented that they’ve baked and frozen it and have been happy with the results. If you do want to freeze it, I’d definitely bake it first.

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2019
      • Reply
  • The dish was great overall and flavorful. The sauce is quite rich, so if you’re not a fan of cheese, I’d be cautious of this recipe. The pasta got a little soggy when I ate it as leftovers, but the taste was still amazing. Easy to pull together!

    • — Jey on April 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • We loved this dish. Followed as written. The sauce filled my processor very full, so move fast while poring into bowl with pasta to mix.

    It’s a keeper!

    • — jacquie miller on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this with orecchiette pasta and it turned out very delicious! I added some chopped mushrooms and diced red bell pepper, which I gently sautéed first, and that was a flavorful addition. I also did not use the garlic, as I thought the flavor of the basil might get lost and overwhelmed with it. This was a delicious dish for dinner, and could easily serve six people with a salad on the side. We loved it.

    • — Dianne Friedman on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this terrific dish a few weeks ago and everyone loved it!! Followed directions exactly as written and turned out perfect! I did cover with foil for the first 3/4 of baking time. Really yummy! I will be making it again for Easter dinner along with my usual ham/chicken/potatoes to satisfy my vegetarian daughter.
    Another wonderful recipe Jenn! Thanks so much!

    • — Lisa on March 29, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. Another one of your fabulous, successful dishes! My husband is not a pasta fan and will not eat cooked cheese. Fortunately, one of our granddaughters is vegetarian as our a couple of our friends. Love having them over for dinner as I get to spoil myself with lovely dishes like this! I’ve done so many of your recipes from your blog that I bought your cookbook just to say thank you

    • — Leslie from England on March 16, 2019
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on March 16, 2019
      • Reply
  • Simple, quick, easy, and delicious.

    • — Ian M. on February 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight with a few minor changes. Added chicken and leeks which I sauté before adding to the pasta. Used coffee cream which is 10% as that is what I had on hand and had fresh spinach so used that. I didn’t bother cooking the spinach and simply added it with the other ingredients in the food processor. It worked well. Overall, my family liked the dish. I seemed to have the opposite issue than others who have posted in that I had a little too much sauce. I did bake at 350 for 30 mins. I might try leaving it a little longer next time to reduce the sauce. I liked the chicken as I think it would have been too creamy without it. Would definitely make this again, great way to use up about to expire spinach.

    • — C on February 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • This recipe was delicious. My path to getting there was fraught with kitchen errors. Be mindful of the size of your food processors before adding the half and half. Mine is an 11 cup but I added the half and half (I actualliy used whole milk and heavy cream) after the other ingredients. This prompted the liquid to pour out of the food processor and all over the counter. Not to be intimiated I threw what was left along with a splash of milk and a splash of heavy cream to make up for what went all over the counter into my Vitamix. I turned that on high and promptly spewed the mixture up my kitchen cabinets (didn’t have the tamper tool flush against the lid) . That said, it pureed nicely. I added an extra clove of garlic and omitted the nutmeg as I am nutmeg adverse in pasta dishes. I baked this in a Pyrex (saw some other reviwers cringe at this but mine came out fine, suprising considering my two previous disasters). It was not dry and it was amazing. My two children ate it (before I told them it had spinach in it). This is defintely a do over. Especially now that I know how to avoid such rookie mistakes with my kitchen tools. I also used Pecorino Romano cheese because in addition to being a wreck with kitchen tools I also apparently cannot read.

    • — Katrina on February 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it despite the mishaps!

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I am making this ahead for today and will freeze to cook later. The dish seems like it will not firm up, (i.e. the sauce seems runny). Is this okay?

    • — Liz B. on December 14, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Liz, the pasta will likely soak up the liquid you’re referring to, so I don’t think the end product will be runny. You mentioned you plan to freeze it – if it’s not already in the freezer, I’d bake it first and then freeze it.

      • — Jenn on December 15, 2018
      • Reply
  • This one just didn’t do it for me. I followed the recipe to the letter- even made sure I used a ceramic dish, and covered with foil for the last 10 minutes. It wasn’t terrible but overall it was too dry, and I found the garlic to be overpowering.

    • — Amy on March 13, 2018
    • Reply
  • Next time I will add more salt and more garlic and maybe a “meat”. Yep, there will definitely be a next time! My family thought it needed meat, like chicken or shrimp. I really liked it as is.

    • — Gracesmom on March 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • Loved this one! My mom, who doesn’t like pesto at all, loved it and couldn’t get over how good it was. it’s on my monthly rotation for her now! Can’t wait to see more delicious recipes!

    • — terithecook on March 1, 2018
    • Reply
  • We love this dish! I made a gluten-free version for our guests. I recommend reducing the amount of pasta but keeping the same quantity of sauce since gluten-free pasta seems to absorb more liquid. It was a bit dry.

    • — Joye on March 1, 2018
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight, didn’t have nutmeg but the flavor was great. Problem was it ended up dry, actually more pasty. I did put a bit less half and half (1/4 cup less) and used fresh spinach. Where did I go wrong?

    • — Tom on February 6, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Tom, glad you liked the flavor but sorry to hear it was a bit dry. I would definitely recommend using the full 2 cups of half and half as I think all of it is necessary. Also, I’m wondering if it was a bit overbaked– does your oven run hot? Perhaps next time keep it covered with foil for about half the baking time, then remove the foil to let it brown a little on top.

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2018
      • Reply
  • Mine turned out a little too much like spinach souffle. I’d like to try it again with more basil and less half & half.

    • — Catherine on January 14, 2018
    • Reply
  • Jenn, could you make this short of the baking step, then freeze to bake later? If so, would the baking time be a little longer?
    Thanks!

    • — Maggy Makowski on December 12, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Maggy, this has a lot of dairy and I’ve been hesitant to tell people that it’s okay to freeze. That said, a few readers have commented that they’ve baked and frozen it and have been happy with the results. If you do want to freeze it, I’d definitely bake it first.

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2017
      • Reply
  • Love this recipe!! This is definitely a family favorite and even my fussy 8 year old says yesssss! when this dish is on the menu. I tend to add more pasta than the recipe calls for as I find it too runny otherwise.

    • — Andrea on December 11, 2017
    • Reply
  • Another winner Jenn! I made this tonight for my two teenage vegetarian grandchildren and they both loved it. As did my wife and myself. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    • — Jim Orvis on December 7, 2017
    • Reply
  • I have one daughter that is vegetarian but boys that definitely are not. This penne dish works for all of them. I often make it when I buy a giant container of fresh spinach instead of using frozen.

    • — Tami on November 30, 2017
    • Reply
  • This is one of my favorite recipes! I tweaked it using non-fat half and half and low fat cream cheese, but other than that it was perfect. My mother, who tasted it with her nose turned up, said it was one of my favorite pasta dishes! Thanks so much!!

    • — Teri on November 30, 2017
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe as written, no substitutions. My kids were very skeptical as it was “green” and no meat. We loved it! This will definitely be put in to our dinner rotation. Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  • I needed a casserole dish for a parrot conference pot luck. I used this recipe as a backbone! I did not have ricotta, or fontina, or spinach. I boiled ziti, then blanched fresh broccoli, sautéed a large cubed chicken breast-stirred them in a pot and added 2 jars of alfredo sauce-poured it into an ungreased 13×9 glass dish and topped it with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella! Baked for 30 minutes and it was an enormous hit!! Even the parrots loved it!!

    • This is the greatest review in the history of online recipes!! Hahaha!!! I didn’t think the recipe was very good but I’m super happy that some parrots enjoyed a totally unrelated dish.

      • — Allison on November 19, 2017
      • Reply
      • LOL…I love when people review a recipe by posting a completely different one.

        • — Laurie on February 8, 2019
        • Reply
  • I would make this over and over again. What a delicious dish. It was so creamy. There was leftovers of this dish and that didn’t last long. That’s when you know people really enjoyed it. Thanks again for another great recipe.

  • Words cannot convey how much I enjoyed this dish. It was incredible! I had gruyere, so I used it instead of fontina, so I’ll have to try the real recipe some day! Regardless, it was fantastic!

  • Can this dish be made the day/night before up until the baking? Any thoughts on this?

    • This can be assembled up to a day ahead. A few readers have commented, however, that they prepared it ahead and thought it turned out a little dry; to avoid that, you may want to cover it with foil for at least part of the baking time. Hope you enjoy!

  • Tasty recipe & easy to make. Definitely a keeper for our dinner guests who are “Vegetarian” friendly. Thank you, as always…

  • Wonderful Recipe. Easy to make with an elegant result. We made roughly as directed but upped the cheese content. Everything is better with more cheese.

  • A nice easy recipe that we enjoyed but, for our palettes, needed a little bit more flavor. Possibly a stronger cheese to replace the Fontina… or maybe a more mature/better quality Fontina than I used (I opted for the less expensive of two that were available).

  • Hi there! Would it be okay to make this dish a day in advance? Thanks!

    • Sure, I’d assemble and refrigerate it and then bake right before serving. Enjoy!

  • I just wanted to to give one answer to the “can you freeze” question : I live alone but always cook full recipes and then freeze leftovers in individual portions – this freezes just fine. If you feel it is a bit dry, just add a little 1/2 & 1/2 when reheating.

  • This recipe is super tasty! It’s become a go-to and family favourite. I always add a bit of pesto to the sauce to give it some zing and I sauté mushrooms in butter to add in with the chicken. Yum!

    • Am I missing something? I couldn’t find chicken anywhere in the recipe, but the way you presented your post sounded like it was included. Went back to double check and still can’t find it.

      • — Joan Barmish on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
      • Hi Joan, There is no chicken in this recipe. 🙂

        • — Jenn on February 9, 2019
        • Reply
  • This is a family favorite! Even my spinach-hating 7-year old gobbles this one down. If anything, I find the recipe a little bit soupy, so tend to add additional penne to balance things out, but this recipe is delicious, fast and popular, so is on regular rotation in our house.

  • Mine also came out quite dry unfortunately with company. Could not find Fontina so subbed in Havarti. May have overcooked by 5 minutes in order to achieve the “light brown” per instructions but I believe the recipe needs another cup of 1/2 and 1/2.

  • An excellent pasta dish! Everyone loved it!

  • An excellent pasta dish! So very yummy!

  • QUESTION: What would be the correct amount of dried basil to use, in place of the fresh? Would it mess up the recipe if I substituted dry basil?

    Thanks much!

    • Hi CJ, Unfortunately, dried basil won’t work here. Sorry!

  • Hi Jenn!
    Thank you so much for all of your incredible recipes!! We absolutely love every recipe of yours that we have tried!
    I am planning to make this over the weekend, and I have only metal or Pyrex casserole dishes for baking. Would one of these options be okay to use?
    Thank you so much!
    Christy

    • Hi Christy, Thank you for your sweet note – I’m so happy you all are enjoying the recipes! I’d use your metal baking dish for this one to be on the safe side. While I’ve never had issues with baking Pyrex at high temperatures, I’ve heard some nightmare stories from readers. Please come back and lmk how it turns out :).

      • Thank you for the prompt reply, Jenn! This was absolutely delicious and turned out wonderfully in the metal pan. I covered it with tin foil for half of the time just in case, and it was perfect! We all went back for seconds! Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

  • Great recipe. Even people who say they didn’t like spinach loved it. I stirred in fresh spinach before serving,

  • This pasta is awesome and easy to make. Even non spinach lovers like this. i like to stir in fresh spinach before serving.

  • Hi Jenn,

    I’ve made several of your recipes lately to resounding success at the family dinner table. This is the next one I’d like to try. Could you please give me some good ideas for substituting the fontina? I saw you mentioned whole-milk mozzarella, but I live in Germany and the usual Italian “staples” on US grocery shelves can be challenging to find here.
    Thanks in advance,
    Anne

    • Hi Anne, So glad you enjoy the recipes! Gruyère, Gouda, or Provolone are all fine substitutes in this recipe. Hope you enjoy!

  • I made this last Monday, came out great, very tasty. I followed the recipe, except I didn’t use the food processor to combine the spinach and basil with the cheeses, just mixed them with a spoon. I’d make it again.

  • Jenn,
    What brand baking dish did you use? I’d be concerned about using Pyrex at that temp. The recipe looks delicious.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Carol, I used Le Creuset for that recipe. Emile Henry ceramic is also great. Hope you enjoy the pasta!

  • I made this over the weekend and loved the flavor. I do have a question about the texture of the filling … what should it be like after baking? I found this to be a little drier that I was expecting. Maybe cooking the pasta a bit more next time might help. Thoughts?

    • Hi Rossalyn, Sorry to hear it was a bit dry. I’m wondering if it was a bit overbaked– does your oven run hot? Maybe next time try keeping it covered with foil for about half the baking time, then remove the foil to let it brown a little on top. (As you suggested, you could cook the pasta for a bit longer; just don’t cook it too long or it’ll get mushy.)

  • Made this a few weeks ago on a weekend so that we’d have mid-week leftovers. It was a hit with everyone (I don’t typically like baked pasta!) and we got 3 meals out of it. Winner, winner, pasta dinner!!

  • I MADE THIS AND THREW IT AWAY.
    BAKED IT FOR 20 MINUTES PER INSTRUCTIONS. THE CHESS ON TOP WAS CRUSTY AND HARD. PASTA ON TOP WAS DRY AND HARD.

    • Hi Dorothy, So sorry to hear this didn’t work out for you! Did you have the oven rack in the center position of your oven? Is there any possibility that you measured something incorrectly? I know it’s disappointing to completely trash a dish!

  • Another fabulous recipe! I didn’t have fresh basil but I do keep batches of pesto in my freezer 🙂 so subbed out a 1/4 cup of basil pesto for fresh basil, and reduced the garlic to 1 clove (since there was garlic in the pesto). Didn’t have any fontina so used Gruyere. It was delicious. My better half and I had trouble not eating the whole thing in one sitting. Definitely a calorie splurge but soooo worth it.

  • This dish is a great weeknight dish – easy to throw together and serves as a one dish meal. The kids love it and overlook the fact that there is “green stuff” in it.
    I don’t bother with the food processor and just mix everything in a bowl, and put some additional whole milk in because the last time I made it, was the pasta felt a little dry. I also make this with brown rice fusili pasta and it comes out great!
    Thanks for another keeper recipe!

  • Hands down THIS was the hit of my Christmas dinner….NOT the prime rib, chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade yeast rolls, roasted veggies, etc!!!!!! So easy to make…I did use one cup of 2% milk and one cup 1/2 & 1/2 which turned out fine!!I can’t wait to make this again!! Yum! Yum!

    • — Wendy G Schoenburg
    • Reply
  • Why does the temp have to be 450? No, I won’t be using pyrex!! LOL! Any chance I can use 350 convection? I’ll have 2 ovens going and may be able to put it in a 450 oven for a few minutes….Thanks.

    • — Wendy G Schoenburg
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, you could bake this at 350. It will just take a little longer; I suspect it would take about 30 minutes.

  • Made this recently and the hubby and even 2 year old loved it. Nice way to sneak in spinach 😉

  • Not only did this look spectacular, it tasted great. Followed the recipe as is but enjoy reading about the creativity of your followers. I on the other hand, always follow your recipes as written and now my family and friends think I’m a great cook! Love, love, love this website, the great pictures and your wonderful recipes.

  • We’re empty nesters now. Can I make this, divide in two, and freeze half?

    • Hi Mary, with all the dairy this contains, I’m not sure how well the dish will freeze. Another alternative is halving the recipe.

  • I really enjoyed this dish and my son who is a picky eater enjoyed it. It kind of tastes like a pesto but thicker.

  • Can this be served at room temperature?

    • I think it’s best serve hot, Sarah. Sorry!

  • This was fabulous, even with my forgetting to put in fresh basil from my garden, and having to eliminate garlic for an allergic guest. Made the night before and simply added more half and half after warming.

  • I’ve tried many of your recipes…all 5 stars for me…for this recipe if you wanted to cut down on the fat I know I could use low fat ricotta, low fat cream cheese…would the recipe turn out the same if I used 2% milk instead of the 2 cups of half & half……

    • — Wendy G Schoenburg
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, I would be a bit concerned that the milk wouldn’t reduce enough and the dish would be watery, but another reader commented that they used milk with good results. You could try using half milk and half 1/2 & 1/2.

  • Made this on Monday! Simply Delicious!

  • This looks delicious, I haven’t tried it yet. I wonder if this could be made with fresh spinach rather than frozen?

    • Sure Jennifer, You can use fresh spinach here. You’ll need to cook it first, then drain as with the frozen. Enjoy!

      • I just wanted to chime in here that I used fresh, uncooked, spinach in mine and had no complaints with the recipe in case others may want to try as well. 🙂

    • I have used fresh Sspinachand just sauted it first in a bit of oil. Works great!

  • This was really good and reheated well. So much easier than stuffing cannoli shells!
    Thank you for a great recipe and website. Can’t wait for your cookbook!

  • Absolutely loved this dish which paired well with the delicious salad you suggested!
    Can I freeze the left-over pasta?

    • Hi Cathy, with all of the dairy it has, I’m not sure it would freeze well– sorry!

  • Dear Jenn,
    I have made so many of your recipes and continue to make them. All of them fantastic and TRUE. But, I must say this Penne and Spinach receipe brings me back to my youth. My Italian mother would make a penne and ricotta with red sauce that was to die for.. This reminds me of that, but just a bit better.
    Thank you for ALL your receipes. I can’t wait to have them all in one place… Maybe a book !

  • I made this dish and my family absolutely loved every bite. I must admit I did not have any ricotta so I left it out. It was very creamy and tasty without the ricotta. Thanks so much for providing tasty, easy to follow creative receipes.

  • Can fresh spinach be used instead of frozen?

    • Hi Dani, fresh spinach will work here. You’ll need to cook it first, then drain as with the frozen.

  • I live in HI at the moment and it’s difficult to find Fontina here! There is a Whole Foods that carries it, but it’s not terribly convenient to our home. Can you recommend any substitutes? Gruyere? Gouda? Kindly advise! Thank you.

    • Hi Veronique, Any mild-tasting melting cheese would work well. I’d probably go with whole milk mozzarella (not fresh). Hope you enjoy!

  • Delicious! I used 2% milk instead of half and half and it was still deliciously creamy. I also added diced, pre-cooked chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s for protein which worked really well. My husband and 1 year old both devoured it.

  • I made this pasta dish last night. Wow, what a hit this was, no one missed the meat. I got home late from work, but had this in the oven in about 20 mins and 20 mins later we sat down to this delicious dish. My daughter who is picky had 3 helpings. It is creamy, flavorful and comforting all at the same time.

  • Made this for break-fast and it was wonderful! A crowd pleaser for everyone and smelled as good as it tasted. A wonderful blend of fresh favors. Definitely a keeper.!

  • Loved the penne with ricotta, spinach and fontina! Husband loved it too! Will definitely make again. Good way to incorporate greens into our diet.

  • Definitely will make this again! I’m always looking for ways to add veggies to meals. My grandchildren ate seconds. That’s what I call a success!! Thanks, Jennifer.

  • Are you suppose to grate the fontina I assume?!

  • Fabulous Meal! I made this last night for dinner. Even my finicky 10 year old ate the pasta. I did lighten up the recipe using low fat ricotta, fat free cream cheese and a mixture of 1% milk with half-n-half. It was very good.

  • This was fantastic. The whole family loved it. I substituted part-skim ricotta because I had it already. Thank you for a perfect weeknight recipe!

  • I made this early in the day. The flavors were wonderful but it was a bit dry. Do you think the pasta absorbed the liquid because I made it ahead of time? Any suggestions?

    • Hi Tory, I don’t think that should make a difference. I’m wondering if it was a bit overbaked– does your oven run hot? Maybe next time try keeping it covered with foil for about half the baking time, then remove the foil to let it brown a little on top.

    • Tory I made it ahead of time and mine was delicious, but a bit dry too. Pasta absorbs a crazy amount of liquid, so I think that’s what happened. I love making things ahead of time, so I think I’ll try increasing the lovely sauce next time.

  • OMG this was so delicious! The cheese sauce was so creamy and full of flavor!
    We’ll definitely making it again!

  • This looks like the perfect weeknight dinner. What can I substitute for half-and-half? They don’t sell it in Australia

    • Hi Mia, You can use half whole milk, half cream.

  • Just made this for a post trip to the beach dinner. Can’t wait. Perfect after a day at the Oregon coast. Glad to hear it can be baked the next day.

  • How far ahead would be safe to make this before putting in the oven? Thanks and we just love all your recipes. My family usually asks at meals “is this Jenn’s” hahaha!

    • Hi Abbie, So glad you’re family is enjoying the recipes! I would say you could make it a day ahead; just cover it tightly in the fridge.

  • Oh my goodness! This was so delicious!!! I made this tonight and it was a HUGE hit! (The only change I made was to use a 8 oz bag of pre-washed spinach instead of the frozen. )

  • Looking forward to making this tonight!

  • Tried this for my family. It is a great way to get them to eat spinach without them even realizing it!

  • I don’t have a food processor, can I make this in a blender? It looks really good – I can’t wait to try it! Thank you!

    • Hi Connie, The mixture might be too thick for a blender, but you could certainly try. If it doesn’t work you can always mix by hand; I would warm up the cream cheese in the microwave first.

    • I put my in the blender and it worked well, but some of the spinach got caught up in the blade.

  • I love the “Pair With” option to click on! I am having twelve ladies over for dinner soon and this menu will be perfect! Thanks so much!!

  • Can you recommend proportions for lower fat alternative ingredients, perhaps skim milk, part skim ricotta, fat free half and half?

    • Hi Lorraine, If you go with reduced-fat alternatives for those ingredients, the measurements would remain the same. Would love to hear how it turns out if you go that route!

  • Can’t have spinach – what do you suggest for a substitute?

    • Hi Penni, I think kale or chard would work. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!

  • My family loves every single recipe I make from your website! Keep them coming!

    Could I throw in some rotisserie chicken with this dish?

    Thanks, Cynthia

    • — Cynthia VanRenterghem
    • Reply
    • Hi Cynthia, So glad you’re enjoying the recipes! I think some chicken would be great in this, and there’s no need to adjust any of the other ingredients. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

  • Any tips or pros and cons on using fresh spinach over frozen in this dish?

    • Hi April, you can use fresh spinach here. You’d need to cook it first, then drain as with the frozen.

  • When does the garlic get added?

    • Thanks for spotting that, Iv. I’ve corrected the recipe!

      • Are you suppose to grate the fontina I assume?!

        • Yes, Kushi. Sorry about that – recipe has been updated. Thx 🙂

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