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Pasta With Tomato and Spinach (20 Minutes)

This spicy, cheesy pasta with tomato and spinach is a quick and easy vegetarian meal. Melty cheese, tangy olives, tomato sauce and healthy spinach. A simple dinner in a skillet.

Perfect for when you only have 20 minutes or so to put dinner on the table or you’re looking to add another meatless meal to the rotation.

plate of pasta with spinach tomato and cheese

What to expect

This easy pasta recipe has great flavor combined with the comfort food factor, meaning a melted cheesy pasta dish the whole family will enjoy.

I up the nutrition with extra tomatoes, fresh spinach and high-fiber pasta. It’s a great way to sneak in extra veggies too.

The briny olives and red pepper flakes give it a nice kick but feel free to leave one or both out if you’re not a fan.

All you need is about 20 minutes, assuming you have a homemade or bottled prepared tomato sauce on hand. Hard to beat that for a quick homemade meal.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

pasta, salt, pepper, grated cheese, garlic, olives, tomato sauce, tomatoes, spinach
Ingredients: dry pasta, salt, grated mozzarella cheese, garlic, olives, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, fresh tomatoes, fresh spinach, Parmesan cheese

Cheese: I use grated Mozzarella cheese from a package if that’s what I have around. Fresh mozzarella or small mozzarella balls (Bocconcini) is better, though, as it has more moisture and melts better.

Pasta: Use any kind of pasta such as regular penne, fusilli, ziti or whole wheat pasta. 

Spinach: Use fresh baby spinach (or regular spinach) if available. Otherwise, frozen spinach is fine too – about 8-10 ounces, thawed. Squeeze out the moisture before adding it.

Tomato Sauce: Use any good quality tomato sauce (we use White Linen from Costco).

Olives: Use black or green olives. Or leave them out if you don’t like them. If you don’t have olives, try a couple of tablespoons of rinsed capers.

Variations and substitutes

Healthier version: Use low-fat cheese if you want to reduce calories and fat. Or less cheese. Saute extra veggies before adding the tomato sauce. Good options are peppers, mushrooms, zucchini or whatever you have around. Use pasta with whole grains for extra fiber.

Creamier, richer version: Add a bit of cream cheese or a splash of half and half cream (or heavy cream if you don’t mind the calories).

Stretch the meal: Add cooked Italian sausage, shrimp or chicken chunks for a bulkier non-vegetarian meal.

Up the flavors: Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.

Step by step instructions

pasta draining in colander
Cook pasta according to package instructions to al dente or how you like it. Drain and set aside.
sauteed tomatoes in skillet
Saute fresh tomatoes in a large skillet for a few minutes, then add garlic and tomato sauce.
tomato spinach sauce in skillet
Add baby spinach and olives. Cook for a minute or two on medium heat until spinach is wilted.
tomato spinach pasta in skillet
Add cooked pasta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine until cheese is melted. Serve with extra shaved Parmesan cheese on the side if you like.

Shortcuts 

  • Leave out the tomatoes and the extra step of sauteing them if you want (I like the extra chunkiness in the sauce so I add regular or fresh cherry tomatoes).
  • Use garlic from the jar or frozen cubes instead of fresh garlic.
  • Buy fresh pre-washed baby spinach.
  • Buy fresh pre-grated cheese.

Make Ahead

  • The pasta warms up beautifully in the microwave over the next few days.
  • Keep leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge.

What to serve with the pasta

Serve this easy recipe with a nice warm crusty bread, cheddar biscuits, garlic bread, or a side salad like winter salad or fig salad.

For dessert, how about a simple 10-minute no-bake berry crumble or easy berry compote on cake?

forkful of pasta with spinach tomato and cheese p

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!

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4.72 from 21 votes

Pasta With Tomato and Spinach (20 Minutes)

This spicy, cheesy pasta with tomato and spinach is a quick and easy vegetarian meal. Melty cheese, tangy olives, tomato sauce and healthy spinach. A simple dinner in a skillet.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Main Vegetarian dish
Cuisine: Italian, Vegetarian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • See Note 1 for variations and substitutes
  • 1.5 cup dry fusilli pasta
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced (2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce good quality
  • 5 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup chopped black olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese (regular or low fat)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • COOK PASTA: Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions (which is usually set to al dente pasta). Cook longer if you like it softer. Drain and set aside. You can reserve a bit of pasta water if you want to thin out the sauce a bit.
  • MAKE SAUCE: Heat oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and olives and saute for another minute. Add tomato sauce, then spinach and stir until wilted and heated through, about 2 -3 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes.
  • FINISH PASTA: Add Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and stir until melted (or leave Parmesan to pass on the side). Add salt and pepper if needed (olives are salty so may not be needed). Serve with warm crusty bread and butter or garlic bread. This pasta is also great reheated the next day.

Recipe Notes

  1. Variations and Substitutions
    • Cheese: Fresh mozzarella is best. Gruyere, parmesan or provolone would be good too. 
    • Pasta: penne, fusilli, ziti, spaghetti. 
    • Spinach: Also use frozen spinach instead of fresh – about 8-10 ounces, thawed. Squeeze out the moisture before adding it.
    • Tomato Sauce: Use a good quality tomato sauce (we use White Linen from Costco). For a creamy tomato spinach pasta, add a bit of cream cheese or a splash of half and half cream (or heavy cream if you don’t mind the calories).
    • Add-ins
      • For a more substantial meal: Add cooked Italian sausage, shrimp or chicken chunks for a bulkier non-vegetarian meal.
      • More nutrition: Saute 
      • More flavor: Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.
      • Healthier version: Use low fat cheese if you want to reduce calories and fat. Saute extra veggies before adding the tomato sauce – peppers, mushrooms, zucchini or whatever you have around. Use pasta with whole grains for extra fiber.
  2. Make Ahead
    • The pasta warms up beautifully in the microwave over the next few days.
    • Keep leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge.
 
Nutritional information is an estimate. 

Nutrition

Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 1641mg | Potassium: 760mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 4805IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

Tomato Spinach Pasta, originally posted in 2017, has been updated and edited with new information and images.

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