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Fettucine Alfredo with Spinach

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Funny story: we originally made this dish with arugula, and when we went to test it a second time, somehow the arugula didn’t get completely washed.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


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  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    March 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I loooove the look of this dinner!! So yummy!!

  • Reply
    molly yeh
    March 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 4:56 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    March 31, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Yum, one of my favorite pasta dishes from childhood. And I like the balanced approach you take with this one!

    • Reply
      March 31, 2014 at 9:05 am


  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 8:07 am

    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!

    • Reply
      March 31, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Sounds great with an egg! Also, can’t wait for some fresh garden herbs to add to everything :)

  • Reply
    ashley - baker by nature
    March 31, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Was butter ever not good for us…? Ooops. Didn’t get *that memo ;)

    This pasta looks glorious! I need to swipe up some spinach so this can be dinner VERY soon.

    • Reply
      March 31, 2014 at 9:04 am

      haha! Thanks! Let us know if you try it!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 9:40 am

    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. ;)

  • Reply
    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
    March 31, 2014 at 10:36 am

    LOL — I’ve bitten into more than my fair share of sand! I love that you’re take on alfredo doesn’t go the heavy cream route. Just a simple application of butter and parm sounds perfect!

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    March 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

    i love alfredo that is slightly heavy but not so richhhh like you’d normally find. this looks wonderful.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Butter me up! This looks fantastic!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    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)

    • Reply
      April 1, 2014 at 8:11 am

      Welcome to the blog and I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Reply
    Iosune | Minimal Eats
    April 1, 2014 at 6:50 am

    So interesting! I’ve never tried fettucine alfredo with spinach, love it!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2014 at 7:35 am

    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 :)

    • Reply
      April 1, 2014 at 8:11 am

      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!

      • Reply
        April 2, 2014 at 8:12 am

        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 :)

  • Reply
    April 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Fettucine alfredo has always been a guilty pleasure of mine- but that’s because I ate it the American way, of course. I like your method. And spinach goes with everything! It’s my favorite green.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane
    April 19, 2014 at 11:07 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Joseph Padovano
    June 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm

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

  • Reply
    Samantha Dahlke
    January 18, 2015 at 1:23 am

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

    • Reply
      January 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      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!

      • Reply
        August 20, 2015 at 11:25 am

        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.

  • Reply
    February 18, 2015 at 12:26 am

    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.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    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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