This quick and easy spinach and tomato pasta recipe is a healthy, lighter option that tastes great for everyday dinners and special occasions.Jump to Recipe
Valentine’s Day was last weekend, and Alex and I traditionally celebrate with a homemade dinner. Since we haven’t been eating the healthiest lately (we blame the Super Bowl leftovers sitting in our fridge!), we wanted to make something a little lighter for this occasion.
In the past, we’ve usually had Italian for special occasions like this. It’s romantic, fairly simple to make, and goes well with a glass of wine! So this year, we chose a recipe that I’ve had in my arsenal for a while now: Spinach Tomato & Olive Oil Pasta.
It’s a light pasta dish that is so easy to cook and tastes incredible, especially with a few slices of garlic bread on the side.
Literally all it takes to make this dish is the four ingredients in the name – spinach, tomatoes, olive oil, and pasta – and a few seasonings. It doesn’t require making any complicated sauces, and it comes together in about 20 minutes! All of this makes for a simple, delicious, and approachable special-occasion dinner that just about anyone can cook.
Our recipe evolved from a dinner my friend and I cooked back in college. We made angel hair pasta with chicken, spinach, and tomatoes from a recipe my friend had found online. I don’t remember where she got it, but I do remember how delicious it was – and how amazed I was that pasta could taste so good without being drenched in a traditional sauce. (Growing up, we always ate pasta with my mom’s gravy and meatballs. It’s so good that I never wanted to try anything else!)
Fast-forward through college and I’d already quickly created many versions of that first recipe. This was mostly out of necessity, since I was always looking for easy meals to throw together between classes. With a pantry full of pasta and olive oil, I at least had the two main ingredients. Then it was just using whatever combination of chicken, spinach, and tomatoes happened to be in my fridge. As a busy student on a budget, I often skipped the chicken to cut down on cooking time and trips to the grocery store.
Eventually I realized I liked this meal a lot better with just the spinach and tomatoes. It was lighter, easier to cook, and tasted fresher to me. So I began fine-tuning the seasonings, the cooking method, and the proportions until it was no longer a scrappy, thrown-together-between-classes dinner, but a meal I imagined myself enjoying in a piazza with a glass of wine in my hand.
And that’s how this recipe ended up being our Valentine’s Day dinner this year. It’s the perfect “healthy” pasta that looks and tastes like it could have been a lot of work, but secretly isn’t. Served with homemade garlic bread, it’s a winner for any day of the week – not just special occasions.
(But next time you want to impress someone by cooking them dinner, we highly recommend this recipe!)
If you love this recipe, try our Vegetarian Tuscan Pasta next!
Spinach Tomato & Olive Oil Pasta
- 2 servings dry pasta noodles*
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra-virgin
- 2 to 3 roma tomatoes diced
- 5 oz baby spinach
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp basil
- ½ tsp parsley
- ½ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper*
- Salt & pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese optional
- Lightly salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add pasta and cook for 12-13 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add spinach leaves to the skillet in batches, cooking until shriveled. Stir frequently and continue adding spinach in batches until it has all cooked down, about 5 minutes.
- Lower heat. Add diced tomatoes and garlic, then season with basil, parsley, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until tomatoes are slightly softened and the juices have released, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat and set aside.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, strain and add cooked pasta to the tomatoes and spinach.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and an extra sprinkle of crushed red pepper, if desired, and stir to combine.
- Serve hot, topped with an optional sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.