This vibrant spinach and basil green sauce for pasta is a delicious way to get your greens in. Make it tonight for an easy weeknight dinner win, or meal prep a batch for a week of healthy eats! Ready in 30 minutes or less.
Is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of pasta? All you need is your favorite sauce to make it into a quick and easy meal. I love pretty much all pasta sauces, including marinara, pestos, creamy sauces, tahini sauces, and cheesy sauces. If you are a fan of quick and easy healthy pasta recipes, you’ve got to try this quick & healthy green sauce!
This sauce gets its vibrant green hue from spinach, and there is a whole lot of it. You’ll blend an entire bag of spinach into this sauce, along with other yummy ingredients including basil, parmesan cheese, and garlic. This pasta sauce has pesto vibes, but it’s a bit lighter and less oily.
As a Registered Dietitian, I love to add vegetables to my recipes in creative, unexpected ways. Blending a big bag of spinach into this pasta sauce not only tastes great, but also packs in a lot of nutrition.
What’s in this green sauce for pasta?
Here’s a list of every ingredient you need to make this recipe. You need less than 10, and it comes together in under 30 minutes.
- Pasta: I used rigatoni with grooves, which helps the sauce stick to the noodles. You can use your favorite kind of pasta, but I recommend something with grooves, curves or ridges. Fusilli, cavatappi, and rotini would all work well. Alternatively, you can use long strand pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine, or tagliatelle.
- Spinach: This pasta sauce recipe includes a whole bag of baby spinach. Spinach has a very mild taste, which blends seamlessly with the other flavors in this sauce. You can swap it for another leafy green like kale or arugula. Just note that the flavor of the greens may be more pronounced in the sauce.
- Basil: You’ll add a handful of fresh basil to add a little flavor complexity to the sauce. Feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, or dill.
- Parmesan cheese
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
This pasta sauce recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free and keto-friendly. To make the entire dish gluten-free, you can use bean or legume based pasta instead of wheat pasta.
How to make spinach green sauce pasta
- Blanch spinach and basil in boiling water.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions in salted water.
- Saute garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil.
- Add blanched spinach and basil, garlic and oil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Toss the sauce with cooked pasta. Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese, if desired.
This recipe tastes great both hot and cold, so it makes for great leftovers. Store leftover green sauce pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can eat it cold like a pasta salad, or reheat it in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Quickly blanch the spinach and basil before blending them into the sauce. Blanching brightens the color of the greens, locks in flavor, and helps retain nutrients. To blanch, simply add spinach and basil to boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove using tongs or a slotted spoon, and immediately put the blanched greens in an ice bath until blending into the sauce.
- Salt your pasta cooking water. Add plenty of salt (don’t be shy) so that your pasta water tastes like ocean water. Salting your pasta water is the best way to add flavor to pasta, so it won’t taste bland.
- Reserve pasta cooking water. Add in a few tablespoons of pasta water when tossing the pasta with the sauce. The starches in the pasta water help the sauce stick to the noodles and coat them evenly.
Spinach nutritional benefits
Spinach is an incredibly nutrient-dense food. Since there is an entire bag of spinach in this green pasta sauce, you’re able to reap lots of nutrition benefits. Three cups of raw spinach provides:
- 2 grams of dietary fiber
- 410 mcg vitamin K, which is 340 percent of your daily needs
- 24 mg vitamin C, which is 25 percent of your daily needs
- High in many other micronutrients, including iron, manganese, potassium, and vitamin A
Spinach is rich in antioxidants, thanks to chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment that gives spinach it’s vibrant color. Antioxidants help protect our cells and fight off inflammation.
If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, it can be difficult to get enough iron from food, since iron is typically found in animal proteins. Leafy greens including spinach are one of the best plant-based sources of iron. Three cups of raw spinach provides 15 percent of your daily iron needs!
Registered Dietitian Tip: To enhance the absorption of iron from spinach, eat it with foods high in vitamin C (like the lemon juice in this green pasta sauce)!
More quick and easy healthy pasta recipes to try
- Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta
- Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus
- Cauliflower and Kale Pasta with Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Pasta alla Norma with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella
- Pea Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
- Spring Pasta with Lemon, Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Peas
Let me know if you love this recipe by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!