Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta

$3.72 recipe / $0.93 serving

Easy wins again!

I’m on day 6 of an 8 day work week, so that means two things: I’m tired and I’m hungry. Quick skillet pasta dishes like this Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta are perfect for such an occasion. They require only a few ingredients, cook up super fast, and leave me feeling full and happy! :)

This version uses just a touch of cream cheese and Parmesan to make a regular tomato sauce ultra rich and creamy. If you’re not into cream cheese, you could also add a splash (1/4 cup or so) of half and half to achieve a similar effect. I used regular pasta, but whole wheat would actually be pretty good in this and would add some extra fiber and nutrients to make it a more well rounded meal. I was lucky enough to get spinach on sale for $0.99 per bag (score!), but if fresh spinach is just out of your price range, this would also be really good with sliced mushrooms. Just cook the mushrooms along with the onions and garlic in the beginning. Or, hey, you could always do a plain creamy tomato sauce. Nothin’ wrong with that!

Anyway, tomorrow is Monday (again) and the week will be long, so I hope this recipe helps make dinner time a little faster, easier, and more enjoyable for you this week! Enjoy!

Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta

Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta

4.9 from 76 reviews
Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $3.72
Cost Per Serving: $0.93
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 small onion $0.25
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes $0.59
  • ½ tsp dried oregano $0.03
  • ½ tsp dried basil $0.03
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional) $0.02
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste $0.05
  • ½ tsp salt $0.03
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste $0.11
  • 2 oz. cream cheese $0.48
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan $0.42
  • ½ lb. penne pasta $0.89
  • ½ (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach $0.50
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.
  2. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.
  4. Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the parmesan and whisk until melted in again.
  5. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

 

Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta

Step by Step Photos

Onion and garlicStart by bringing a large pot of water to a boil so that the pasta can cook while you prepare the sauce. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook them both in a skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until they are soft and transparent.

Diced Tomatoes & HerbsOnce the onions have softened, add the can of diced tomatoes (with the juices), dried oregano, dried basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper, then stir it all together.

Tomato SauceI wanted it a little “saucier” so I also added 2 Tbsp of tomato paste and about 1/2 cup of water. This is what it looked like *after* adding the tomato paste and water. 

Broken Can OpenerI have to pause for a second to tell you a crazy story. This is the second can opener in the past month that has spontaneously stopped working. It works one day and then the next thing I know the gears suddenly don’t match up, it won’t clamp on the can correctly, and when it finally does start to cut, it cuts through the side rather than the top of the can. I broke a sweat opening this can of tomato paste and finally had to use a fork to pry it open just enough to scoop some out. Weird, right? Hopefully the third can opener will be a winner.

Cook PastaAnyway, at some point the water will be boiling, so you can add the pasta and let that cook while you finish the sauce.

Cream CheeseTurn the heat under the skillet down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few chunks and then add it to the skillet with the sauce. Use a whisk to stir it in as it melts…

Chunky SauceIt will look kind of chunky or grainy at first, but just keep stirring…

Smooth SauceEventually it will begin to melt in and get all creamy and delicious. Once the cream cheese is melted in, add about half of the Parmesan and stir it until it is melted in. Add the second half and stir until melted in again.

Fresh SpinachAdd the fresh spinach…

Wilted SpinachAnd gently stir it in until it has wilted. This can get kinda messy, so stir gently so that the spinach doesn’t fly out of the skillet.

Add PastaFinally, add the cooked and DRAINED pasta. You can use any shape, but I like a tubular pasta the best because the sauce gets all up inside those holes and makes it SO good. My next choice would have been bow-tie pasta. 

Creamy Tomato & Spinach PastaMmmmm… How can you resist?

205 Comments

  1. Heather E says:

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I subbed creme fraiche for the cream cheese, as that’s what I had on hand and it worked beautifully! Quick and easy too- love it!

  2. My husband and I love this recipe! We have made it several times, and we enjoy putting different proteins in it, like Italian sausage, or white beans.

  3. Peggy says:

    The pasta looks great, I can’t wait to try it.
    As far as your can opener issues, I went through at least a half dozen can openers that always broke at the worst times and then I bought a Pampered Chef can opener, best purchase I ever made!

    • I Had fun making this dish last night and it smelled so good while cooking the sauce from scratch… I used a bit more garlic than it called for and a bit more Parmesan and added shrimp and used white wine instead of water… it turned out wonderful…

  4. Theresa Conrad says:

    Made this as a side dish for my husband who hates cream cheese. He never noticed! Bonus points for sneaking in the spinach too! Thanks for this recipe, it is easy and delicious and I will be recommending it.

  5. Michelle says:

    This looks delicious! Bought all the ingredients and plan on making it sometime this week. I was wondering if you have any tips for storing/reheating pastas like this so they’re good the next time you have them? I didn’t see anything in your how-tos. Thanks!!

    • Honestly I don’t do anything special. :) I just portion it out into single serving resealable containers (like Ziploc or Glad) and then use the microwave to reheat. Leftovers are never exactly the same as when they were first cooked, but they’re usually still totally delicious! :)

  6. Andrea says:

    This recipe is definitely a keeper! I made it last night and added sautéed shrimp seasoned with garlic and Creole seasoning. My meat and potato man loved it : ) Don’t hesitate in making this; it was easy and delicious.

  7. Made this for dinner this evening, the BEST pasta ever! So simple and easy and yet so yummy :)

    Love it!

  8. Samantha says:

    Made this last night, and just had some for leftovers! Oh, was this good! It was so easy to make, and very flavorful. I’ve actually never made a pasta sauce from scratch before, but this one was delicious. I’ll be making this again. Mmmm.

  9. Darlene says:

    Made this tonight, was Fabulous! Speaking of which, about how many calories would you say is in this awesome dish?
    doesn’t have to be exact but a round about clue would be most appreciative! :)

    • I’m not sure, really, BUT there are several websites online that let you enter ingredients for a recipe and it will calculate it out for you. :)

  10. Misha says:

    Can the cream cheese be substituted for something else to add creaminess to it? Would plain yoghurt work?

    • I don’t think plain yogurt would be quite creamy enough. I would try a mix of yogurt (for tanginess) and liquid cream (for the creaminess).

      • Misha says:

        Thank you! :) For some reason, my stomach just doesn’t handle cream cheese well.

  11. Lindsey says:

    This is one of my family’s favorites. My toddler even loves it (which is really saying something.) There’s no fresh spinach here lately, so I’ve been using frozen spinach sautéed with the onions and garlic. Tastes amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. This was so yummy and easy to make!! Next time I’ll add more garlic thought. I couldn’t really taste it.

  13. leslie says:

    Did you mean grated parmesan like the powdery stuff in the plastic container or shredded parmesan? Wanna make sure I have all the right stuff before I cook this!

    • I used grated (the powdery kind), but you could use shredded, too. Shredded is just more expensive. :)

      • I used some shredded asiago & parmesan that happened to be on sale & it was delightful! Love opportunity buying.

  14. Claire says:

    Just made this and it is delicious! Officially on my go-to recipe list.

  15. I found this recipe on Pinterest and through another website but this looks like it might be the original – so glad I found it! I made this a feature recipe on my recipe review blog page and a couple of changes that I personally would make WHEN I make it again (it was fantastic!) You can check it out on http://nikkieandbabies.blogspot.com/2014/07/what-i-ate-wednesday-creamy-tomato-and.html

    Also, these are fab photos and I may or may not be drooling over this recipe again! :-)

  16. im 15 and just made this for my mom and shes a picky eater and she loved it and i felt so proud :D so good!

  17. Slauditory says:

    This is excellent! I used whole wheat spaghetti instead and puréed the diced tomatoes (for a picky eater). Very good!

  18. Gabby says:

    Made this tonight. I found it a little acidic so I added 1/2 tbs of sugar. And I added more oregano and basil, but that is just me. I also had some shrimp in the freezer so I threw that in too. Really great and will definitely make again.

  19. Mercedes says:

    Made it twice: once with spinach and the other with sausage bits. Both times the sauce was absolutely delicious! Thanks!

  20. Wendy says:

    Found this on Pinterest – thanks! Made it tonight; great recipe!

  21. My toddler ate this even though it has “green things” in it. That speaks highly for the recipe! :)

  22. rdkassie says:

    I just made it omg it was delicious…my husband told me I bought those refrigerated food an heated it up for him lol…I told him no it was all me from scratch..thanks ☺☺☺

  23. Alli says:

    This was cheap, easy and SO delicious. Thanks for a great recipe!

  24. Amanda says:

    This was delicious and so easy to make! My husband loved it and thought I was a chef coming up with all these amazing recipes (which all came from budget bytes!) thanks Beth!!! I’m trying Cajun chicken pasta tonight which I see from your comments is worth it! Thanks again !!

  25. Chelsea says:

    Favorite recipe I’ve made from this site so far! The sauce was so delicious, I will definitely be making it again.

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