Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Creamy Spinach and Tomato Pasta


This creamy spinach and tomato pasta recipe is easy to make in less than 30 minutes and completely dairy-free!

Bowl of creamy tomato pasta topped with a few leaves of fresh basil and fresh cracked black pepper.

Table of Contents

Recipe Highlights

  • Vegetarian and vegan.
  • No double cream or cream cheese.
  • Can be gluten-free.
  • Quick and easy to make.
  • Made with pantry staples.
  • Use any pasta shape.
  • 17 g protein per serving.

Ingredient Notes

All the ingredients needed for making a vegan creamy pasta dish with canned tomatoes, cashews, spinach, herbs, onion and garlic.
  • Pasta: The pasta is cooked separately so you can use any variety. Short or long pasta varieties both work well. Try spaghetti, linguine or fettuccini or a short shape like shells, bows or penne.
  • Cashews: Use raw cashews (no oil or salt added).
  • Diced Tomatoes: Use a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, or about 1.5 cups. Since they’re getting blended, canned whole tomatoes, tomato passata or crushed tomatoes also work.
  • Spinach: Use fresh spinach or baby spinach. The amount doesn’t have to be exact. You can substitute finely chopped kale but I like spinach best for this recipe.
  • Nutritional Yeast: This adds a cheesy and umami flavour to the sauce.
  • Herbs: You can substitute 2 tsp Italian seasoning for the basil and oregano.

This list is not complete. Please see the recipe card at the end of the post for the complete ingredient list with measurements and detailed instructions.

Additions

  • If you’d like to add fresh tomatoes, saute up to 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes with the onions.
  • For additional fresh vegetables, add up to 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1 diced red bell pepper or small chopped zucchini with the onion.
  • For a variation, drain on 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes and blend half into the sauce and mix the remaining in when you add the spinach.
  • Topping Suggestions: Vegan Parmesan Cheese, Tofu Ricotta Cheese, fresh basil or freshly cracked pepper.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Soak the cashews. You can do a quick soak by covering the cashews with boiling water in a bowl and soaking for 15 minutes or soaking at room temperature for 4-8 hours (or overnight). Drain and rinse after soaking.

Raw cashews soaking in a glass container.

Step 2: When you’re ready to proceed with the recipe, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil then cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.

Step 3: Add the soaked cashews, water or broth, canned tomatoes, nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt and pepper (and optional tomato paste) to a blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy. Set it aside for now.

Creamy tomato sauce in a blender container.

Step 4: Heat a little olive oil in a large sauce pan or skillet, then add the diced onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Step 5: Add the garlic, basil, oregano and chili flakes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.

Diced onion, garlic and dried herbs cooking in a pan.

Step 6: Add the sauce from the blender, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer lightly until the pasta is ready to add, stirring occasionally.

Tip: Scoop the reserved pasta cooking water into the empty blender container to help get the excess sauce out before pouring it in at the end.

Creamy tomato sauce cooking in a large skillet.

Step 7: Add the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Slowly pour in some of the cooking water until you reach your desired consistency. Anywhere from 1-2 cups is recommended depending on how saucy you want the final dish, I used about 1 cup. Stir in the spinach until wilted and mixed in.

Large skillet of creamy tomato spaghetti with spinach.

Divide the pasta between bowls and serve topped with freshly cracked black pepper, fresh basil and/or grated parmesan cheese. Even better with garlic bread for dipping into the extra sauce!

Bowl of creamy tomato pasta topped with a few leaves of fresh basil and fresh cracked black pepper.

Recipe FAQs

Is creamy spinach tomato pasta gluten-free?

The pasta sauce is gluten-free, so just be sure to pair with your choice of gluten-free pasta such as brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta.

How long does spinach tomato pasta keep?

You can store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat leftovers in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Can I use whole wheat pasta?

Yes. The pasta is cooked separately so you can use any pasta you like.

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes, though fresh spinach is recommended to avoid watering down the sauce. To use frozen spinach, thaw it first then squeeze to remove excess moisture before adding to the sauce.

Can I freeze this recipe?

This recipe is not freezer-friendly.

Chef’s Tips

  • Don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining. This helps thicken and add creaminess to the sauce at the end.
  • Season throughout cooking. Be sure to add a generous amount of salt to the the pasta cooking water well with salt, season with onions with salt and pepper and add salt and pepper to the blended with the other sauce ingredients.
  • The pasta will thicken after sitting or storing so be generous when adding the reserved pasta cooking water. It will seem like there’s extra sauce but the pasta will soak it up.
  • Most pasta comes in 450 g or approximately 16 oz containers. The recipe calls for 340 g (4 x 85 g servings) dry pasta but there’s quite a lot of sauce, so you can increase the pasta to 5 servings, or a whole 450g container, if you like.
Creamy tomato spinach pasta twirled on a fork in a bowl.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
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Description

Creamy tomato pasta with spinach that’s perfect for an easy dinner recipe the whole family will enjoy.


For the Cream Sauce

For the Pasta


  1. Soak the cashews for 15 minutes in boiled water or for 3 hours up to overnight at room temperature. If you do not have a high-speed blender, a longer soak is suggested for a smooth sauce. If you have a high-speed blender such as Vitamix, a quick soak in boiling water or 1-2 hours at room temperature sufficient. Drain once done soaking.
  2. When you’re ready to proceed with the recipe, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook your pasta of choice al dente according to the package instructions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Tip: If the blender container is free by this time, scoop the pasta water into the blender container and swirl to help get out the left behind sauce. Drain the pasta but do not rinse. 
  3. Add the soaked cashews to a blender with the water, can of diced tomatoes, nutritional yeast, tomato paste and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside for now.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until softened and fragrant.
  5. Add the garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes while stirring.
  6. Add the sauce from the blender and reduce heat to medium-low. Bring to a light simmer, stirring often.
  7. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat then stir in the spinach until wilted and mixed in. 
  8. Serve your pasta topped with freshly cracked black pepper, fresh basil, your choice of grated parmesan cheese and garlic bread on the side.


Notes

Most pasta comes in 450 g or approximately 16 oz bags or boxes. This recipe calls for 4×85 g servings of dry pasta but there’s quite a lot of sauce, so you can increase the pasta to 5 servings or a whole 450g container if you like.

Leftover pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop until heated through.

*Tomato pasta can be added for a deeper tomato flavor though the sauce is still tasty without it!


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 502
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Sodium: 469 mg
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Carbohydrates: 80 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 17 g

Keywords: creamy spinach and tomato pasta

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