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 86 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?

227 Comments

  1. Liss says:

    this sounds awesome- I am making this for dinner.. wonder if I could use fresh tomatoes instead of the canned?

    • You can, but you’ll want to cook them down a bit until they get a little saucy. Also, you may need to add some salt to make up for what is in canned tomatoes.

  2. Annette says:

    I made this tonight. Delicious. My husband thought it was one of the best recipes ever. I did dink around with the recipe. Added about 1/4 cup of the Sangiovese wine I was drinking, used frozen spinach loose in bag since it’s all I had, added some chopped mushrooms I needed to use up to the onion garlic mixture after 3 minutes but before I added tomatoes. I didn’t have paste so I used a bit of tomato sauce, Better than Bouillon 1/2 tsp and a ladle of the pasta water.

  3. Ahhh!!! Made this last night!!! LOVED IT!!! Will be adding it to my recipe book!

  4. Aupton14 says:

    Made this last night and loved it! Will be making it again :)

  5. Sarah says:

    I’m thinking of making this tonight but have a couple of questions. Do you mean grated parmesan as in the kind that is crumbly and comes in a jar, or actual cheese using a grater? I could use either.

    Also, do you think using the multi-flavoured pasta would work well? I recently found some boxes of the kind with regular, tomato, and spinach pasta on sale for $1 each and it seems like it might complement this recipe perfectly, but I’m wondering if it would be overwhelming.

    • I used the kind that comes in a jar, but if you have a block of parmesan, you could use that too (it’s much more expensive, though). I think the multi-flavored pasta would be just fine. :)

  6. rosie Hamm says:

    Made this today, it was delicious and very healthy.

  7. Hi Beth –

    I made this recipe once before with the exact ingredients and it was excellent (and the only time I convinced my roommate to try my cooking, haha)!

    I was going to make it again this weekend but I only have frozen spinach on hand – do you think I can substitute it for the fresh spinach and if so would I have to make any alterations to the recipe?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • You can, although the texture will be a bit more stringy. Also, if you get “chopped” frozen spinach, be prepared for little tiny bits of spinach throughout, rather than larger pieces. I’d also recommend getting the kind that comes frozen loose in a bag rather than frozen into a block because the block kind has a lot of water and will need to be thawed and squeezed before adding to the pasta. :)

  8. Harry says:

    Really nice recipe. Replaced Parmesan and cream cheese with yogurt and result turned out to be equally good and less heavy.

  9. This was tasty! I warily chose a 12-inch skillet for it, though, and that was probably unnecessary–my 10-inch cast iron would have worked just fine.

    I imagine some pepperoni slices would go nicely in the mix. Next time I make it, I’ll give that a shot.

  10. Yuuum. My roommate gave me a great tip- take a generous spoonful or two of the pasta water and dump into sauce, and let it reduce back down. It adds some starch and makes the sauce stick to the pasta instead of puddling in the bottom of your bowl!

  11. Michelle says:

    What a great recipe! I tried this out as a quick dinner on the weekend and my family loved it so much that I’m doing a repeat performance for a party! Thanks for sharing with us all :)

  12. anonymous says:

    I made this for lunch the other day and then again tonight for supper. I used whole wheat penne tonight and although it was more filling, I dont think ill do that again. Both my hubby and I love this pasta!

  13. GirlWithGlasses says:

    OMGGG. So good!!! I used chunky tomato sauce from a jar, added some sauteed shrimp, broccoli and chopped up half a red pepper. I added the whole box of pasta and it diluted some of the flavor but it was still very very good. That was just me being a little piggy. Next time I’ll stick with your measurement lol

    Thank you so much for this!

  14. Joanne says:

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I added some sauteed boneless chicken breast chunks for added protein. It was on sale this week.

    Is that half a 9 oz bag of spinach or a total of 9 oz? My bag of baby spinach was 10 oz, but I added all of it and boy was it hard to get it into the sauce in my saute pan. Maybe I just need to use a larger pan!

  15. Laura K says:

    Made this tonight and it was great! I accidentally doubled the spinach and like it that way. Extra iron!

  16. I made this pasta tonight, and it tasted amazing! The only downside — my sauce was much more watery, which I attribute to the fact that I used half & half instead of cream cheese. Maybe next time, I will omit that 1/2 cup water and see what happens.

  17. LIsa Marie says:

    Amazing. My new go to sauce :) I even add a protein (chix Shrimp)

  18. This was so delicious! Instead of using canned tomatoes and tomato paste I just used half a jar of tomato sauce. The cream cheese was perfect — creamy but not too rich. Will make this again!

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