There’s something really special about the simplicity of pasta with butter, salt, and pepper. The creaminess of the butter and the little pops of salt and pepper sitting on the surface of the pasta, it’s simple goodness at its best. I love this combo so much that I’ve made several variations on that theme over the years. This week I added some sautéed mushrooms, garlic, spinach, and a few dollops of fresh ricotta for extra creaminess. This Mushroom and Spinach Pasta with Ricotta is still an incredibly simple and delicious pasta dish, perfect for those nights when you want something special, but not complicated. Pair it with a glass of white wine and you’ve got a really amazing dinner!
If you’re as in love with the simple combo of pasta, butter, salt, and pepper as I am, check out my other variations on this simple dish: Spicy Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale, Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta with Ricotta, Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta, or Bowties and Broccoli.
What Kind of Mushrooms Should I Use?
I’ve been really taking advantage of these Baby Bella mushrooms from ALDI that have been $1.69/8 oz. for a while, so that’s what I used. You can use regular white button mushrooms, if needed, or full sized portobello mushrooms. If you have access to something a bit fancier, like morels, by all means take advantage of that!
Can I Freeze the Leftovers?
I don’t suggest this pasta dish for freezing. The “sauce” is extremely light and will get absorbed into the pasta, leaving it dry. Even when reheating refrigerated leftovers, you may want to add a little extra butter to make up for what has absorbed into the pasta while it is in the refrigerator.
What Can I Substitute for Mushrooms?
This dish is all about the mushrooms. If you don’t like or are allergic to mushrooms, I suggest trying one of the other similar recipes linked above (just below the first photo).
What Can I substitute for Spinach?
You can either leave the spinach out, or try something like kale. If using kale, you’ll just need to sauté a bit longer to soften the kale (see Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta).
What Can I substitute for Ricotta?
If you’re not a fan of ricotta, you can either leave it out, or add a generous amount of Parmesan to the pasta in its place.
Mushroom and Spinach Pasta with Ricotta
- 8 oz. bowtie pasta ($0.53)
- 16 oz. baby bella mushrooms ($3.38)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.20)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 2 cups fresh spinach ($1.07)
- salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta ($1.00)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.03)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the bowtie pasta and continue to boil until tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water before draining in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the dish. Wash and slice the mushrooms, then add them to a large skillet along with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms have released all their water, the water has evaporated, and the mushrooms begin to brown (about 7 minutes).
- While the mushrooms are cooking, mince the garlic. Add the garlic and butter to the browned mushrooms and continue to cook over medium for 1-2 minutes more, or just until the garlic softens a bit.
- By this time the pasta should be finished cooking. Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. The starchy pasta water and butter will make a slurry that will act as a light "sauce" that helps the salt and pepper adhere to the surface of the pasta.
- Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and stir just until wilted (1 minute). Add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir until everything is evenly combined. Turn the heat off and season liberally with salt and pepper. If the pasta is dry, you can add an additional splash of the reserved pasta water.
- Finally, spoon the ricotta on top of the pasta in one-tablespoon dollops. Add a pinch of red pepper on top, if desired, and serve warm.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Mushroom and Spinach Pasta – Step by Step Photos
Begin by cooking 8 oz. bowtie pasta. You’ll be able to prepare the rest of the dish while the pasta is cooking. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, then continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes). Before draining, reserve about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water.
After you get the water started, wash and slice 16 oz. baby bella mushrooms. Add them to a large skillet with 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté over medium heat.
As you cook the mushrooms they’ll begin to release water. Keep cooking until all of that water evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown.
Once the mushrooms have browned a little, add 2 Tbsp butter and two cloves of minced garlic. Sauté only for 1-2 minutes more, or just until the garlic softens a bit.
Add about ¼ cup of the starchy pasta water to the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom. The butter and water will make a sort of slurry that acts as a light sauce. Add 2 cups fresh spinach to the skillet and stir just until the spinach has wilted (about 1 minute).
Finally, stir the cooked and drained pasta into the skillet until everything is well combined. Turn the heat off and then season liberally with salt and pepper. If the pasta is too dry here, you can add a splash more of the reserved starchy pasta water.
Finally, add ½ cup whole milk ricotta in one-tablespoon dollops on top of the pasta and sprinkle a pinch of crushed red pepper over top, if desired. Serve warm!