Creamy Ricotta Pasta with Spinach, Peas, and Peppers

I was cleaning out my SD memory card from my camera and found some pictures of recipes I made while I was at home for winter break! I just never finished the blog entry...probably because I was too busy having fun with my family. Anyway, here is one of the recipes I made. It was a pasta dish made with shell pasta (conchiglie, they might also be called). I like using shell pasta when I make pasta with peas because sometimes the peas get stuck inside the shells, which looks cute. I made this to use up leftover ricotta cheese as well as some random vegetables that were in the fridge (bell peppers, spinach, and some peas). This pasta is great because it's light-tasting and doesn't have tomato sauce, for a change of pace. This would be a great substitute for macaroni and cheese, which can be caloric. The vegetables in this dish add bulk, which makes it seem like you can have a larger portion of pasta than what you're getting!

Creamy Ricotta Pasta with Spinach, Peas, and Peppers
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups uncooked small pasta, preferably whole wheat
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced onion, any color
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded fresh spinach
1 tbsp shredded fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid before draining the pasta. The peas can be added in the last few minutes of the pasta cooking in order to thaw them, if they are not thawed already.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, allow it to warm, then add the garlic, onion, and peppers. Saute the vegetables until they are tender.
3. Add the cooked pasta, the cheeses, some salt and pepper, and enough pasta cooking water to help the cheeses start to melt. Once the pasta and vegetables are coated with cheese, add the spinach and basil and toss them with the pasta until they are wilted.

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