Serves a Crowd

Lightly Cheddared Spinach Ricotta Mac And Cheese

March 16, 2011
10 Ratings
  • Makes 4 to 6 servings
Author Notes

For this I was looking for creamy mac and cheese without an overpowering cheddar bite. The ricotta smooths it all out, the cayenne and white pepper gives a warm bite, plus my husband will eat anything that has spinach in it. —inpatskitchen

What You'll Need
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • A few gratings of nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup grated medium cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 handfuls ( or more) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 8 ounces ziti or shells, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 cup grated medium cheddar for the topping
  1. In a medium sauce pot melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a light roux.
  2. Over medium heat, slowly add the milk while continually whisking. Whisk until the mixture thickens.
  3. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, basil, salt and pepper and stir. Stir in the the ricotta and cheddar until melted
  4. Stir in the spinach leaves and stir the mixture until the spinach wilts.
  5. Combine the cooked pasta with the cheese spinach mixture and turn into small shallow casserole dish ( I used a nine inch round ceramic baking dish). Sprinkle the 1/2 cup cheddar over the top.
  6. Bake at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Gertie Himmelfarb
    Gertie Himmelfarb
  • Alexa Szafalowicz
    Alexa Szafalowicz
  • DeborahBetty
  • AntoniaJames
  • inpatskitchen

Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

9 Reviews

SMB G. August 14, 2022
Delicous! Five stars! I had leftover ricotta that'd been moldering away in the freezer a while since making a lasagna, and some pasta that needed a sauce. I just made the sauce. I did a double batch following the recipe exactly like it says. I was bemused adding nutmeg and cayenne to the same recipe, but it works, is good! Thank you for sharing.
Gertie H. June 11, 2020
I made this tonight and it was fantastic! I didn’t have cheddar so I used fresh mozzarella with the ricotta in the pan and sprinkled shredded mozzarella on top before baking. I didn’t have while milk so I used unsweetened almond milk instead and it was a little healthier and just as good. I like the amount of pepper in it, it adds a lot of zip! Will definitely make again because I love ricotta.
inpatskitchen June 12, 2020
Thank you so much Gertie!
Alexa S. July 8, 2019
This was really good! I added red pepper flakes and 2 cloves of minced garlic to the spinach as it sauted. Delicious flavor, great alternative to basic mac and cheese.
inpatskitchen July 9, 2019
Thanks Alexa! I LOVE garlic and red pepper!
DeborahBetty February 3, 2017
Finally I found my perfect mac & cheese. After too many failed mac & cheese recipes I was delighted when I found this one. After making this a few times I decided to adjust my cheese, I used ⅔ medium cheddar and ⅓ sharp (using a quality block of cheese). It seems this is a winner for all those that have eaten it at my home. Recently instead of using spinach I used kale. While I did sauté the kale in a little onion/garlic, then added it to the sauce I found the flavor was amazing, a little more work than just tossing in spinach but well worth the added time in the kitchen. As a vegetarian this is now my go-to meal as it freezes well.
inpatskitchen February 3, 2017
Kale sounds perfect! Thanks so much!
AntoniaJames March 16, 2011
Mmmmm. Yum. I have some nice Dubliner on hand, as well as some perfectly gorgeous chard, which I plan to use in this within the next few days. My son who's home from college on spring break is going to love it. Great recipe!! ;o)
inpatskitchen March 16, 2011
Thanks AntoniaJames...I think the Dubliner and chard would be perfect I even think if my grandchildren could get past the green, they'd even love it since all five are pasta and cheese freaks!