baked-pasta-recipe-baked-alfredo-florentineThis dish was inspired by a baked pasta recipe on Cooking Light that was promoted as one of it’s best or most popular dishes. After reading the reviews, I thought the “idea” sounded more promising than the recipe itself. Too many reviewers said the recipe lacked flavor and I agreed that it seemed to be missing something. Confident that, with a few tweaks here and there, this baked pasta recipe could be really amazing.  And boy, I was right!

Timing for any recipe is key. It helps everything flow better and makes your life (in the kitchen) just a little less stressful and the recipe less frustrating.  If you have any sides to go with this dish, I’d recommend putting them together while the baked pasta is finishing in the oven. The timing for prepping this recipe goes like this:

  • Make your filling + warm pot of salted water. By warming up your water while you’re working on something else, it will come to a boil quickly when you’re ready.
  • Make sauce + par boil (i.e. undercook) pasta
  • Assemble baked dish and finish in oven.

baked-pasta-recipe-alfredo-florentine2The creamy ricotta filling in this recipe is reminiscent of baked ziti, except it has loads of basil, spinach and garlic in it. I also used part-skim ricotta to lighten up this decadent baked pasta recipe.

Instead of store-bought alfredo sauce, I opted to make my own.  It was my first time and it was suprisingly simple and fast.  Alfredo sauce is essentially 3 ingredients: cream, butter and parmesan cheese.  I used light cream (instead of heavy), backed off on the butter a tad, and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. Super easy, super yummy.

While the sauce is coming together, cook your pasta. Whenever you make a baked pasta recipe, it’s important to make sure you undercook your pasta by a couple of minutes because your pasta will continue to cook in the oven in the sauce you bake it in.  If my box of ziti says it’s “al dente in 8-9” minutes, I cook it for 6 minutes in a baked pasta dish.

Please give this Baked Alfredo Florentine a try and let me know what you think!

Baked Alfredo Florentine

Ingredients

    Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove, zested (on a microplane)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Filling
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup chopped spinach (frozen is okay)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 7 basil leaves (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • Other Essentials
  • 3 cups ziti or pasta of choice
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan for the top!

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. Whisk together the whole egg and egg white.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
  3. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pasta dish.
  4. Make the Alfredo Sauce:
  5. Melt butter in a small sauce pan.
  6. Add cream, garlic, salt and pepper and warm through.
  7. Whisk in the parmesan and stir until melted.
  8. While making the sauce, cook the pasta in salted water just 2-3 minutes under the amount of time listed on the pasta package.
  9. Assemble your Baked Alfredo Florentine:
  10. Put half of the pasta into a medium-sized casserole dish - one that is fairly deep.
  11. Pour half Alfredo sauce on top of the pasta.
  12. Spoon all of the ricotta filling on top of the pasta+alfredo and spread evenly to the sides of the baking dish
  13. Add the remaining pasta
  14. Add the rest of the sauce
  15. Top with 1/4 cup of mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmesan
  16. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes until bubbly and starting to turn golden brown on top.
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