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 99 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?

251 Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    I made this on Monday and it was so delightful! I invited my friend over to try with me, and for desert we had naan (also your recipe) coated with Nutella and whipped cream :) We loved it all.
    Next time I am going to sauté mushrooms with the onions and garlic and see what happens! Thanks for sparking my cooking curiosity again!
    You’ve saved me from the grasp of Ronald McDonald!

  2. Dana says:

    Can you add a little chicken or shrimp?

    • Yes, you can sauté them in the skillet before the onion and garlic. For shrimp, definitely remove them from the skillet after they turn opaque, then add them back in at the end. Shrimp overcook quickly, so you don’t want to leave them in the skillet the whole time.

  3. Clarissa says:

    Love this dish, have the ingredients to make it for a second time.

  4. Made this last night!! Was a HUGE hit with the husband (and me too!) So simple and amazing. I used herb and garlic cream cheese instead of regular to try out! So soo good

  5. Sammy says:

    Made this recipe using a jar of homemade tomato puree instead of the diced tomatoes/paste/water combo. My boyfriend hates tomatoes, but he said he likes it, and if it passes the boyfriend test, you know it’s good :)

  6. Made this last night. It was super easy and super delicious!! I’m so excited about the left overs!!!! :) Thank you for the great recipe!

  7. UniversityStudentOfAntwerp says:

    Hey, I love this recipe.
    I have a lot of frozen spinach in my freezer,
    would it be possible to use this in the dish instead of fresh?
    I am a bit worried about the extra water it would produce in the dish, could you give me some tips about that?

    • If you thaw the spinach in the microwave first, you can squeeze most of the moisture out with your hands (it’s fairly quick). That being said, the frozen spinach will have a different texture than fresh and you need to make sure not to use frozen chopped spinach because that will be in super small pieces. :)

  8. dweeblebum says:

    Lisa:
    You could use soy or oat cream, and just leave out the parmesan.

    OP:
    For your can opener troubles http://world4.info/can-opener-gws-finland/ (or search for “finnish can opener” if the link doesn’t work).

  9. It’s a blustery cold day here in CT and I fell asleep. I needed to feed my family and needed something quick and good. There are always canned tomatoes and pasta in the pantry, and I just brought home spinach last night. I found you with Google, search terms spinach and pasta. My family all agreed that this is a keeper. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Lauren says:

    I just discovered your website and I’m a fan already! Yesterday I made your feta spinach grilled cheese (delicious!) so today I wanted to use the leftover spinach and ended up cooking this dish. It was awesome, even my boyfriend, who usually doesn’t like vegetarian stuff, loved it! By the way, I used two ladles of the penne-water to bind the sauce, the starch in the water does the trick perfectly :)

  11. Cathy says:

    This recipe is super yummy and easy!
    Would it freeze well in individual portions or would the pasta be weird after?

    • I freeze pasta a lot and it’s great. I would worry a little about the cream cheese sauce, though. That doesn’t always freeze/thaw so well.

  12. Looks amazing. Would it turn out okay leaving out the dairy? Or do you have any suggestions for replacing the dairy, for someone who can’t eat it?

    • Well, the dairy really is what makes this recipe unique. Leaving it out or replacing it would kind of turn it into a different recipe all together. That being said, a plain tomato & spinach pasta wouldn’t be terrible, but I think I’d add some red pepper flakes or something to make it more interesting. :)

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