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 143 reviews
Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $3.72
Cost Per Serving: $0.93
Serves: 4
  • 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
  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?


  1. victoria says:

    making this tonight and SO EXCITED. thank you for this bomb recipe!

  2. Jennifer says:

    how would the sauce hold up in the freezer?

    • Creamy sauces don’t hold up quite as well in the freezer (it may get a little dry and the sauce may clump a little upon reheating). But honestly, I’d still eat it! The flavor should still be just fine.

      • Rebecca says:

        I make something like this with chicken and its always better after it has rested a bit. i just ad butter when im heating it up to loosen some of the sauce from the noodles.

  3. Marnie says:

    This was soooo good. I added italian sausage and this was 10x better than the Penne Rosa you get at Noodles and Co. And 10x cheaper. This is going to be in the weekly rotation!

  4. Kara learns to cook says:

    Hi! Found this on pinterest and I’m making it right this second. I had about four tomatoes and no canned tomatoes, so hopefully it won’t change the taste too much!

    • Rebecca says:

      id love to know how that turned out for you. i have a bunch of tomatoes i need to use up but haven’t because im worried about the lack of juice. but i do add fresh baby romas to my recipe with the canned and its good!

  5. Has anyone tried it with frozen spinach? Maybe adding less water for the tomato paste since the frozen spinach will bring some to the dish would work? Can’t wait to try and cook this! Seems delish!

    • I would thaw the spinach first and squeeze out the excess moisture. That way you don’t have to worry about altering the other ingredients. The only issue I’ve had with frozen spinach for recipes like this is that it can be a little stringy or just in really small chopped pieces.

  6. Priya says:

    Hi Beth! What as fantastic website! I’m new to cooking and this recipe look easy enough that I can make it. Just a quick question- what kind of onions did you use? Yellow ? Thank you in advance .

  7. Haley says:

    Hi! I am planning to make this yummy looking meal this week. My husband and I are not the biggest onion fans, so would it be safe to half the onion or does most of the flavor blend, thus making the onion not stand out too much? Thank you!

    • I think you could safely use half the onion and still have a very tasty dish. :) I didn’t think the onion stood out too much, but if you’re opposed to onion, you might notice it more.

  8. This is my favorite recipe! I wish I could make it in double batches, but I don’t have a skillet large enough.

    It makes a great leftover, and it’s almost as good cold as it is hot.

  9. Monica Lovell says:

    I made this for my family tonight and it was delicious!! My husband likes mushrooms so I chopped some and added them as well. The flavors were so good together. And, this was so easy! Thank you for such a yummy dish.

  10. Rose says:

    My family is Italian, so we make/eat pasta constantly, but this was on another level entirely!! Thank you so much; this dish is absolutely fantastic.

  11. Farrah says:

    Great tasting recipe for such inexpensive ingredients. I doubled the recipe to feed my family. Would add more red pepper flakes next time.

  12. Has anyone tried Kale with this instead of spinach? Looks delish!

    • Cole says:

      Yes! We frequently switch out kale for spinach depending what’s on sale at the store and it’s yummy either way :)

  13. Dulce says:

    I made this yesterday for my family. I doubled the recipe, fed a family of 5 and still had some leftovers for lunch. Kids loved it, but suggested adding chicken next time. Thank you!

  14. Lauren W. says:

    So quick and soo yummy My go-to meal if I’m in a time crunch and need something fast but delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  15. Kathleen says:

    Hey Beth this recipe is awesome! Since i’m a poor student I literally eat this at least 3 times a week. But I never get tired of it because I love it so much. Sometimes I add way more red pepper flakes to spice it up.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Wonderful! Even my four picky kids gobbled it up. Thank you so much for this creative & healthy recipe! It will be a staple in our home.

  17. xxxxxxxx says:

    My dog wouldn’t eat that slop. Fucking amerikans know nothing about food.

    • Sounds like a pretty ungrateful and spoiled dog.

    • Wow, how funny. You can’t even spell ‘Americans.’ How about using your time Learning how to spell instead of bashing the way different people cook. You sound extremely ignorant and uneducated. I think this recipe looks delicious!

    • Sounds like you don’t know anything about culture and can’t appreciate new dishes. Not every person cooks the same. To each their own but leave the negativity out of here!

      I can’t wait to try this one out!!

  18. Jacob says:

    I just tried this recipe and the end result was awesome! I had all the ingredients already and I had a great lunch. Looking forward now to taking some on a picnic later.

  19. Corrina says:

    Made this tonight and my family loved it. Will make again. I veganized the recipe by substituting cashew cream for cream cheese and omitting the parmesan cheese.

  20. amazing recipe, I ate it over the course of a week! So good. However, I have one issue, and that is why I am giving 4 stars. taste Wise: 5 STARS.

    Price wise: 2/5 stars. You claim just a little over $3.00 for the entire recipe. I paid $15.00 dollars for the entire recipe (this was excluding the spices which I already had at home).

    How do you calculate the price of you recipes? They do not seem accurate to me. Thanks

    • Hi Max, here is a quick tutorial on how I calculate recipe costs. I calculate only the cost of the amount of each ingredient used, assuming the remainder of the product cost will be accounted for when it’s used in another recipe. Of course, ingredient costs vary quite a bit from region to region.

  21. Charlotte says:

    Beth, I love your web site. Your cooking is down home and great. Thanks for sharing!

  22. We made this last night for meatless Monday, and it was REALLY good! We run the gambit of veggie lovers, ranging from can’t stand to doesn’t eat anything but! The veggie hater even ate a few pieces of spinach, and that’s saying something! Thanks for helping us meet our tight grocery budget this month, we’ll be using your recipes more often! As a matter of fact, I’ll be writing about you on my blog! (Not that I have many followers yet… LOL)

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