Creamy Spinach Pasta

Creamy spinach pasta

The Spruce/ Molly Watson

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
319 Calories
20g Fat
24g Carbs
12g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 319
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 661mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 12g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 284mg 22%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 426mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Easy pasta dishes are among the most nutritious and easiest alternatives for busy weeknights when the only thing you need is a wholesome dinner for the family in the least amount of time—and ideally with minimum effort. Our creamy spinach pasta checks all the boxes. The active work time is very short, it's perfectly delicious and filling, and there's very little cleanup to make afterward. Most importantly, it is a bit indulgent, with a splash of cream and sprinkles of Parmesan cheese—but also chock-full of spinach. Serve with a simple salad for a quick and succulent meal that also makes great leftovers and freezes beautifully.

Regular pasta or whole-grain pasta can be used, in any shape you want, although short pasta is recommended. Make it right before dinner time, or make ahead and bake once it's time to eat. This recipe is also a great template for adding other veggies of your liking such as broccoli, cauliflower, peas, or fresh cherry tomatoes. Add mushrooms, artichokes, or grilled zucchini to complement the pasta and serve as a decadent vegetarian meal. For meat-eaters, add grilled chicken tenders, salmon fillets, or delicious bacon bits. Delicious as-is, the pasta can also be turned into a dairy-free and gluten-free version to suit other dietary needs.

Use any greens of your liking—you need a total of ten ounces of green leaves: kale, Swiss chard, arugula, or collard greens are great options, each bringing a different bright and peppery flavor into the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for salting the pasta water

  • 8 ounces fusilli, or any short pasta

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 10 ounces spinach leaves, washed; no stems

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated; optional 

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; optional 

  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or any other grating cheese; or to taste 

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Bring about 2 quarts of salted water to a boil over high heat.

  3. Cook the pasta to al dente, following the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

  4. Add the olive oil and garlic to a large skillet and cook until fragrant or about 1 minute.

  5. Add the spinach to the pan plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir well until the spinach starts to wilt, cover, and cook until completely wilted, for about 2 minutes.

  6. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add the nutmeg and black pepper, if using.

  7. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine thoroughly. The greens might stick together, so you will need to break them up a bit if you want them evenly distributed in the pasta. Cover the mixture and cook so the pasta can soak up some of the juices, about 2 minutes.

  8. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Serve hot with additional Parmesan to taste.

  9. Enjoy!

Make Ahead Casserole Version

If making a casserole:

  • Preheat an oven to 375 F. Butter an 8x8-inch baking dish.
  • Follow the instructions for the skillet version above, but undercook the pasta by at least 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Once you make the sauce and add the pasta to the skillet, use only half of the Parmesan cheese when combining it into the mixture.
  • Place the pasta mixture in the greased baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • If baking right away, allow 15 to 20 minutes in the oven for the cheese to melt and a crust to form.
  • If making ahead, cover with tin foil and place in the fridge for up to 2 days before baking. Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until very hot and bubbly.

Make a Dairy Free and Gluten-Free Version


To make a dairy- and gluten-free version of this dish, start by choosing a gluten-free pasta. Rice, lentil, and chickpea pasta are really delicious and have a great texture. Use a mixture of 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of soy milk, or any plant-based milk, instead of the heavy cream. Choose a vegan Parmesan cheese alternative to add to the pasta, if desired.