Spinach Alfredo Pasta

This easy spinach alfredo pasta comes together in under 20 minutes and is a vegetarian dinner recipe the whole family will love!

Spinach Alfredo Pasta

Creating this easy pasta recipe

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 with 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 —newsflash — butter’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!).

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.

Spinach Alfredo Pasta

Tips for making spinach alfredo pasta

This vegetarian pasta recipe comes together in under 20 minutes, but keep these things in mind when you’re making it:

  • Use freshly grated Parmesan — The Parmesan cheese sold in shaker cans doesn’t melt like the stuff you can buy at the cheese counter. If possible, grate the Parmesan yourself, or buy the pre-shredded cheese in a bag. Just avoid the stuff in the can at all costs!
  • Wash your greens before using — If you’re using a bunch of spinach and not boxed baby greens, make sure to wash them first!
  • Use salted butter — We prefer using salted butter in this spinach alfredo pasta recipe, to bring just the right amount of salt to the dish.
Spinach Alfredo Pasta

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Spinach alfredo pasta

This recipe is…

This spinach alfredo pasta recipe is vegetarian.

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Spinach Alfredo Pasta

Spinach Alfredo Pasta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x

Description

This easy spinach alfredo pasta comes together in under 20 minutes and is a vegetarian dinner recipe the whole family will love!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces spaghetti or fettuccine
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a liquid measuring cup; set it aside. Then drain and rinse the pasta.
  2. In a large saucepan or skillet, heat a splash of the pasta water over medium heat. Cook spinach leaves until just wilted and bright green; then remove to a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan, add the milk, 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and the Parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring until a smooth sauce forms.
  4. Add the pasta to the pan and stir to coat. Add the butter, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper and stir to combine until the butter melts. If necessary, and a splash of pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately

Notes

Inspired by Simply Recipes and Saveur

  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Spinach Alfredo Pasta, pasta alfredo

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

28 Comments

  • 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
    Kathryn
    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
      Alex
      March 31, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Thanks!

  • Reply
    Christine
    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
      Alex
      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
      Alex
      March 31, 2014 at 9:04 am

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

  • Reply
    Ashley
    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
    Grace
    March 31, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Butter me up! This looks fantastic!

  • Reply
    Ross
    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
      Alex
      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
    Nina
    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
      Alex
      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
        Nina
        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
    [email protected]
    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
    Annie
    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
      Sonja
      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
        Melissa
        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
    Jeff
    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
    Melissa
    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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