Hazelnut Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta Cream

Hazelnut pasta with baby spinach and ricotta cream.

The hazelnut pasta I used in this deliciously creamy and nutty pasta recipe comes from the Langhe hills in North Italy, home to the world’s best hazelnuts and birthplace of Nutella!

hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream

Tagliatelle di nocciola con spinacini, crema di ricotta e nocciole

On a recent trip to the beautiful Langhe hills in Piemonte, we visited a hazelnut farm. There, I indulged in my passion for all things hazelnut and bought a number of different products including hazelnut pasta (pasta made with hazelnut flour) and a divine local hazelnut and chocolate cream, which tastes very similar to a more famous local product, Nutella!

hazelnuts, hazelnut pasta and other products from Piemonte

Hazelnuts in Piemonte.

The area I visited is pretty famous for its hazelnuts. Apart from the fact that these hazelnuts are considered by those in the know to be the best in the world, this is the birthplace of Nutella! Nutella was invented here by a pastry maker from Alba called Pietro Ferrero in 1946.

In the post war years, cacao was hard to come by and Mr. Ferrero ingeniously created a paste with local hazelnuts, sugar and just a little cacao. He called this paste ‘Giandujot’ after a famous local carnival character. Over the next 18 years the recipe for Ferrero’s paste was improved to make it more spreadable and in 1964 it was renamed ‘Nutella’.

ingredients for hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream

Today the Ferrero company is still owned by the same family and they still use local hazelnuts for their products. Although given that the company produces Nutella in different countries and uses 25% of the world’s total hazelnut production, they, of course, also buy hazelnuts from other places.

baby spinach leaves in frying pan with chopped shallots

Hazelnuts in Italian cuisine.

Italy is actually the second biggest producer of hazelnuts in the world, although production is mostly in only four regions; Piemonte, Campania, Lazio and Sicily. Italians use hazelnuts in a vast array of confectionery products and ice-cream and to make liqueur such as Nocciolino or Frangelico. They also like to snack on them. However, hazelnuts aren’t used as much in making savoury dishes, unlike almonds, walnuts and pine nuts.  

Having said that, hazelnuts are quite often used in risotto. Also, hazelnut flour is used to make hazelnut pasta in some hazelnut growing areas, particularly where I was in Piemonte. In Campania, they have a traditional recipe for pasta with hazelnuts and anchovies, which I have yet to try. Hazelnut pesto is also quite popular these days and definitely on my to-make list and hazelnuts are sometimes used in filled pasta recipes.

hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream in frying pan

The pasta.  

The hazelnut pasta I bought was dried tagliatelle, made with a mixture of hazelnut flour and normal durum wheat flour. This pasta really did have a wonderful nutty flavour and smell. So, I decided to cook it in a recipe that had only a sprinkling of nuts. I felt serving it with hazelnut pesto would have made it too nutty! Of course, this dish can be made with other pasta such as plain or spinach tagliatelle or fettuccine. I think short pasta would work well too!

hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream

Quick and easy to make.

This is a very simple recipe. Apart from the hazelnut pasta, it includes just fresh baby spinach, shallots, creamed ricotta, ground hazelnuts, a pinch of thyme and nutmeg and grated parmesan. Sounds delicious? It was!! Plus, it’s also really quick and easy to make. In fact, this recipe can be put together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. Perfect for the current hot weather we’re having.  It’s just too hot right now to spend any length of time in the kitchen!

hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Buon appetito!

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5 from 13 votes
Hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

I made this deliciously creamy and nutty hazelnut pasta recipe with pasta made from hazelnut flour, but you can enjoy it with normal pasta too..just don't forget the hazelnuts! 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Piedmont-Piemonte
Keyword: hazelnuts, pasta, pasta recipe, ricotta, spinach, tagliatelle, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
Ingredients
  • 400 g tagliatelle pasta ( I used pasta made with hazelnuts)
  • 200 g fresh ricotta
  • 400 g baby spinach leaves washed
  • 2 shallots peeled and sliced
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese grated
  • 4-5 tbsp crushed hazelnuts not too fine
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 100 ml fresh cream optional
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. 

  2. Peel the shallots, cut them into thin rings and fry them in a large pan with heated olive oil until they start to soften. Add the well washed and dried spinach and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes.

  3. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When ready save some of the cooking water and drain. 

  4. Cream the ricotta with some of the saved pasta water. Work it until you have a nice smooth thick creamy sauce. You can use a fork or handheld blender for this. If you prefer you can also cream it with fresh cream. In that case, you can prepare it before cooking the pasta. Season the ricotta cream with nutmeg, salt and pepper as required.

  5. Add the pasta to the pan with the spinach, add the creamed ricotta, some of the grated Parmesan and crushed hazelnuts and a little fresh thyme. Mix everything together well and sauté for a few moments. Serve hot with another sprinkling of crushed hazelnuts. 

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hazelnut pasta with spinach and ricotta cream

Yum

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14 Comments

  • Stephanie Simmons
    September 11, 2018 1:57 am

    This sounds amazing! I’ve never had hazelnut pasta but it sounds so good. I love spinach in my pasta 🙂

  • Chef Mireille
    September 9, 2018 7:40 pm

    that pasta looks so delicious with the creamy ricotta – so rich now that the temperatures are starting to cool

  • Adriana Lopez Martin
    September 9, 2018 5:45 am

    Two of my favorite things hazelnuts and pasta sound like a heavenly combination. I really need to try this recipe soon very creative and different yet delightful learn so much everytime I visit your site

  • Mirlene
    September 9, 2018 2:19 am

    I love seeing dishes from all parts of the world. I especially like seeing how our common ingredients are used to create a perfect dish. Thanks for the history lesson on Nutella. It makes you appreciate the ingredient(s) or dish more when you know a little of its history. I have never used hazelnut in pasta, but definitely interested in trying it. Looks delicious.

  • Amanda
    September 8, 2018 4:38 pm

    I love the idea of ricotta cream! That sounds amazing. I’m making pasta tonight, so this looks like the perfect recipe to try.

  • Alexis
    September 8, 2018 4:01 pm

    Oh yummy! I love the nutty flavor of hazelnuts and over pasta I bet this is absolutely delicious. Definitely going to give this dish a try.

  • Stine Mari
    September 8, 2018 1:56 pm

    Hazelnut pasta sounds llke the perfect Fall treat! Even though I am allergic to hazelnuts – hazelnut pasta here I come!

  • Michelle
    September 6, 2018 7:21 pm

    I have never eaten this or tried it before so I am glad you made this, it really gives me some great ideas on what to try this weekend!

  • Gloria
    September 6, 2018 3:24 pm

    I have never combined hazelnuts with pasta before. Sounds like a great combination. I could eat this for lunch or dinner. Perfect to take to work too.

  • Kelly Anthony
    September 6, 2018 1:32 pm

    I’ve never heard of or had hazelnut pasta but I’m definitely intrigued. Loved reading your hazelnut facts and history too.

  • Danielle Wolter
    September 6, 2018 12:58 pm

    I love the idea of hazelnut pasta, not sure I’ve ever had it before. And I’m all about anything that comes with ricotta cream. Sounds delicious!!

  • Alina | Cooking Journey Blog
    September 6, 2018 11:03 am

    I’ve never used hazelnuts with my pasta, so it sounds like a very interesting and delicious combo!

  • Kate Hackworthy
    September 6, 2018 11:01 am

    This pasta looks incredible! I love that it’s only a handful of ingredients, but must be so flavourful and special.

  • Danielle
    September 6, 2018 8:50 am

    Hazelnut pasta sounds amazing – I bet it has so much texture to it. Definitely one to try this autumn.

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