This versatile mushroom spinach pasta is a quick, hearty vegetarian weeknight meal. Creamy, cheesy pasta mixed with healthy mushrooms and spinach (or other veggies of your choice).
Jenna, the other kook, loves this baked pasta dish because she is a huge fan of mushrooms and cheese.
The sauce is just a basic white cheese sauce for pasta which you can flavor with your favorite seasonings, aromatics and cheeses. You can also lighten it up by using lower fat milk and cheese. Needless to say, adding cream and full fat cheeses will make it richer and more luxurious. But the lower calorie version is still yummy.
Nutrition wise, this baked pasta dish is pretty good. It does have saturated fat (due to the cheeses), but also a good amount of protein, vitamin A, calcium and potassium.
Serve the pasta as a main dish with a simple side salad or a healthy soup such as homemade creamy tomato soup, hearty ratatouille soup, or curried sweet potato soup. It also makes a great vegetarian side dish for roasted salmon stuffed with herbs or lemon butter herb baked trout.
Tailor To Your Taste
There are lots of variations you can try based on preferences and what you have on hand. I know many people don’t like mushrooms for example.
- Use any small pasta e.g. baby penne, small shells (oriechette), orzo, macaroni.
- For a gluten free version of this mushroom spinach pasta, use gluten free pasta. Here are the best tasting gluten free pastas according to an Epicurious article based on Amazon ratings. They are made with corn, quinoa or rice.
- You can use frozen spinach instead of fresh. Just make sure you squeeze out all the water before adding it to the pasta mixture.
- Try kale instead of baby spinach. Or cooked broccoli or cauliflower
- Choose mushrooms you like for this dish – white button, cremini, shitake, etc.
- Use red peppers instead of (or in addition to) mushrooms. Just saute them with the onions.
- Add tomato slices on top of the pasta casserole before baking.
- Use whatever herbs you like best. I used thyme. Rosemary, fresh basil or tarragon would work well too.
- Use any combination and fat content of milk and cream. I use 2% milk with a splash of half and half cream for extra richness.
- Try different combinations of cheeses you prefer e.g. Gruyere, Monterey Jack, White, Fontina, Provolone, Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan.
- Buy pre-shredded cheeses, sliced mushrooms and pre-washed baby spinach.
- Complete the casserole and don’t bake it. Cover and place it in the fridge for up to two days. Bake when needed for about 20-25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.
Other vegetarian pasta dishes you might like
- fresh vegetable pasta
- Mediterranean pasta
- stuffed pasta shells with spinach
- fresh tomato pasta with lemon and olives
- tomato spinach pasta
- easy gnocci recipe au gratin
How to make mushroom spinach pasta
Mushroom Spinach Pasta
- 2 cups (8 ounces, 200 g) baby bow tie pasta (or other small pasta, Note 1)
Mushroom Spinach Cheese Sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 onion, chopped (about 1 cup or 50g)
- 8 oz (226g) mushrooms, sliced (about 2 1/2 cups), Note 2
- 1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 cups (310 ml) milk 1/4 cup (59ml) of this can be half and half cream for richness)
- 1 1/4 cups (105g) grated white cheese, divided, Note 3
- 2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach (about 3 cups)
- 1/4 cup (21g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- PREHEAT OVEN: to 4OOF/204C
- BOIL BOW TIES: Boil bow tie pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- SAUTE MUSHROOMS AND AROMATICS: Heat pan to medium high. Add butter and oil. Add mushrooms and onions. Saute for 5 minutes until translucent and water from mushrooms is evaporated. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds.
- MAKE SAUCE: Reduce heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add milk (and cream if using), thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and all the spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Add bow ties and mix to combine. Pour into a 7-8 inch (18-20 cm) square or round oven proof dish.
- BAKE: Top with remaining 1/4 cup white cheese, Parmesan and parsley. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese browns on top. Alternatively, bake 7 minutes and broil for 3 minutes to brown the top, watching that it doesn't burn.
- Pasta - instead of bow tie pasta, try macaroni, baby penne, orecchiette (shells), orzo.
- Mushrooms - choose the kind you like e.g. white button, cremini, shitake or a combination.
- White cheese options - Gruyere, Fontina, Emmenthal, Monterey Jack, Provolone, White Cheddar.
- Make Ahead: Complete the mushroom spinach pasta casserole and don't bake. Cover and place in fridge for up to two days. Bake when needed for about 20-25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.
This mushroom spinach pasta recipe has been updated with additional information and picture edits.