Fettucine Alfredo with Spinach

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Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach | A Couple Cooks

Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach | A Couple CooksFettuccine Alfredo with Spinach | A Couple Cooks

Pasta with butter and cheese was rare for us when we first started eating whole food. With so many new foods to experiment with, we focused mainly on experimenting whole grains and fresh vegetables. (I also used to limit my carbs, so pasta was considered the enemy at one point.) But those days are over, and our “moderation is key” approach has us experimenting with whole wheat pastas studded with veggies. Plus — newsflashbutter’s back to being good for you.

Instead of the typical cream-based alfredo sauce we’re used to here in America, this fettuccine alfredo uses the “traditional” method: tossing the warm pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, which melts into a gooey, savory sauce. We’ve added spinach here to pack in some nutrients; you also could use other greens like tender arugula (just make sure it’s not too spicy!).

Funny story: we originally made this dish with arugula, and when we went to test it a second time, somehow the arugula didn’t get completely washed. We took our first bite and CRUNCH. It was literally like eating sand. The entire pot ended up in the trash. Lesson learned. (And in the end, we also changed the arugula to spinach since the spicy flavor overpowered the dish. Another lesson learned).

We hope you enjoy this take on classic Italian comfort food! We’ve used whole-wheat pasta here, but you could certainly use gluten-free if you have allergies.

We got our arugula and spinach at Indy Winter Farmer’s Market – if you’re local, make sure to check out the market as it’s packed with greens of all kinds. 

Fettucine Alfredo with Spinach
Serves: 4 to 6
What You Need
  • 1 pound whole wheat fettuccine pasta (or gluten-free if desired)
  • 1 bunch spinach (6 to 8 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
What To Do
  1. Fill a large pot with water and add several pinches of kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil and add the fettuccine.
  2. Meanwhile, wash the spinach and remove any large stems. Cut 6 tablespoons butter into small pats. Grate 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese.
  3. When the fettuccine is al dente (cooked, but still a little firm), reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Then drain the pasta into a strainer.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and add a small amount of the pasta water (about ½ cup). Add the spinach and cook until bright green and wilted, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on the firmness of your spinach). Then add the pasta and toss thoroughly to combine.
  5. Add the butter, half of the Parmesan cheese, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Continue to toss the pasta until the butter and cheese form a sauce. As necessary, pour very small amounts of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce. Then add the remainder of the cheese and toss until integrated. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately.
Inspired by Simply Recipes and Saveur

28 Comments on “Fettucine Alfredo with Spinach”

  1. molly yeh

    I always shy away from alfredo because it is usually so darn creamy and heavy and makes me feel all guilty and stuff. But I like the simple look of this one and, my, how I’ve been craaaaving spinach!

  2. Kathryn

    I don’t think I’ve ever had fettucine alfredo – I’ve never seen it over here and always steered clear when I’ve been in the the US as I don’t do well with heavy/cream sauces but this? This sounds wonderful. Rich but light at the same time especially with the brightness of the spinach in there too.

  3. Christine

    I made a similar noodle dish a few days ago as a side dish for our meal with whole wheat elbows , parm, little butter and added a beaten egg to the mixture for a little extra protein. My kids devoured it! Love the spinach in yours and will have to add a green next time. I think even something simple like parsley or other herbs would be delicious. Thanks!

  4. Ashley

    I absolutely LOVE this and am totally on board with butter. And if you haven’t yet tried ghee….oh.em.ghee. [bahaha – had to] So super rich and amazing, especially for cooking eggs in. The simplicity of this is awesome, minus the sand. ;)

  5. Ross

    My, my… We are an older couple and we gave up heavy cream sauces some time ago..
    I found your blog while surfing for simple meals for 2..
    THIS recipe will be made this week..
    Thank you… :O)

  6. Nina

    I had this for lunch tiday and it was perfect! Quick, easy, and delicious! I am always looking for pasta dishes because this is what I cook whan I have no inspiration (or too much inspiration and can’t choose what to cook!). Pasta is always the best solution ;) I used orechiette because this is what I had on hand and chopped the spinach to match with the size of pasta, but it wilted much more than what your picture suggests (it was still very good!) so next time I’ll try with long pasta or I won’t cook the spinach beforehand, and toss it directly with the pasta! Thank you for the recipe :)

    1. Alex

      Glad you tried the recipe! The spinach we purchased at the farmer’s market was hardier than your typical store-bought baby spinach… taking closer to the 3 minutes of cook time. Thanks for writing!

      1. Nina

        I had spinach from the farmer market too but I think that it was pretty tender so that might explain why it wilted. Also I think that’s because I chopped it! But it was really great though :)

  7. Annie

    I love this idea and will have to try it! I don’t typically make or eat a lot of alfredo because the “typical” version is too heavy to me. This sounds much more my style.

    Also, I have such a hard time with arugula. For me, the flavor is overpowering (even without the sand, LOL!) even in small quantities so I almost always use spinach instead.

  8. Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    Hello! This is a great reminder that some of the best pasta sauces are very simple. I laughed at your crunchy arugula story. It reminds me of the time the same happened to me with some broccoli. I think I even ate some of it for a second day, trying to convince myself that it was edible. Nope, it wasn’t.

  9. Joseph Padovano

    Excellent! I added mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Would try it next time with either shrimp or chicken.. Thank you!!!

  10. Samantha Dahlke

    I had problems with the cheese not melting and clumping up. Is that supposed to happen? Any tips for me?

    1. Sonja

      Yes, this happens before the cheese melts! Just keep tossing it – you can keep the heat on very low if that helps. You can also add a little bit more pasta water and keep tossing until it comes together. It gets clumpy right before it melts, so just keep going and it should form a sauce!

      1. Melissa

        I’m glad i read this before i made it, mine had the same issue, so i just added a bit more pasta water and kept tossing and it did come together into a nice sauce.

  11. Jeff

    Fabulous recipe. Sauce was very rich, but not overly filling. Added some diced chicken cooked in rosemary infused olive oil and some fresh thyme. Great compliment to the dish for those looking for the protein boost.

  12. Melissa

    Yum! This is so good! I love the added nutrition from the addition of spinach . This dish tastes light, yet decadent at the same time!

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