Pasta in Green Sauce (Green Pasta)

By Alexandra Caspero on March 11, 2024
Ready in just 20 minutes, the perfect side or main dish!
Serves 2-3

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this green pasta is great for kids or anyone looking to add more greens to their diet! Vegetarian and easily vegan, this vibrant pasta in green sauce is a great main or side all year long.

How gorgeous is this green pasta recipe!? I’ve been on a green food kick lately to celebrate spring and St. Patrick’s Day, and this pasta in green sauce checks all the boxes.

This one is so simple to make, and if you like pesto or my easy vegan pasta recipe, then I know you will love this one.

Quickly blanch some spinach and basil, along with cashews and garlic, then puree with lemon juice until creamy and smooth. Toss with pasta of choice, then enjoy! It takes 20 minutes to put together, from start to finish and is great for both kids and adults.

See below for tips for success and photo directions, or scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe.

Spinach Pasta Sauce With Red Pepper Flakes

Ingredient Notes

This pasta in green sauce is pretty straight forward, but see below for ingredient notes and substitutions.

  • Spinach: This is what gives the pasta its gorgeous green color, and I don’t recommend trying to use less of what’s called for here. You can try substituting kale, but it will have more of a vegetal taste than spinach. However, I’ve done both, and they are great!
  • Basil: This green sauce recipe is similar to a pesto with spinach, and the fresh basil adds in a really nice flavor. You can also use parsley, or even a handful of arugula to give more flavor to the spinach sauce.
  • Cashews: This recipe is based on our Caterpillar pasta recipe in the Plant-Based Baby and Toddler book, but I’ve added extra garlic and cashews. The cashews provide creaminess and a more silky texture. They are completely optional for a nut-free recipe. I use raw cashews. You can also use pine nuts if you’d like.
  • Garlic: As the sauce is mostly spinach, the garlic adds a lot of flavor. I don’t recommend omitting, but you can use more. I’ve done 4-5 cloves for a more intense garlic flavor and love it!
  • Parmesan cheese: The parmesan cheese adds an extra umami flavor, which I really like in this recipe. To make this vegan, you can use dairy-free parmesan cheese or add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to the blender.
  • Lemon: The lemon adds a bit of brightness and acidity to the spinach and also keeps the spinach a beautiful green color as the pasta sits.
Green Pasta Recipe In Two Bowls

How to Make this Creamy Green Pasta Sauce

Add the cashews and garlic

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cashews and garlic and cook for a few minutes.

Add in the spinach

Spinach In Pot

Add the spinach and basil and cook until just wilted and bright green, about 30 seconds.

Remove and blend

Spinach And Cashews In A Blender

Remove the spinach, basil, garlic and cashews and place in a blender. Let cool slightly, then add in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and puree until creamy and smooth.

Cook the pasta

Pasta In Green Sauce 10

Add the pasta to the same pot of salted water you cooked the garlic and spinach in. Cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

Toss together

Pasta In Green Sauce

Add the sauce to the cooked pasta along with the lemon and cook over low heat until well coated, adding in a splash of pasta water as needed to thin. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.

Bowl Of Spinach Pasta Sauce

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute the spinach?

You can use other greens instead of the spinach. Kale would be the best substitute option, other greens can also be used, but the flavor will change. You can also use other fresh herbs, like parsley, instead of the basil.

Can I use an immersion blender?

There isn’t enough liquid to use an immersion blender for this sauce; you’ll need a blender or food processor to make the sauce.

How do I serve this to kids?

I love this with a dollop of Calabrian chili paste on top, or crushed red peppers, but omit if serving to kids.

Can I substitute the cashews?

The cashews make for a creamy sauce. You can also omit, or if you still want a creamy spinach pasta sauce without the nuts, then I recommend a little mascarpone cheese or cream cheese stirred in with the hot pasta and spinach sauce.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes, you can make this gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta of choice.

Pan Of Spinach Pasta

Storage Recommendations for Leftovers

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

You can make the sauce ahead of time, if desired. I recommend only making the sauce a day ahead at most as it will thicken slightly as it cools. You may have to add in more pasta water if you make the sauce ahead of time.

Bow Of Pasta In Green Sauce

More Spaghetti Recipes

More Pasta Sauce Recipes

Pasta With Spinach Sauce In A Bowl

If you make this pasta in green sauce, then make sure to come back to leave a comment and a rating. Your feedback helps other readers, and seeing you make my recipes makes my day!

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Pasta In Green Sauce In A Bowl

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Pasta In Green Sauce In A Bowl

Pasta in Green Sauce (Green Pasta)

  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 23 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, pasta, healthy
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

A green pasta for anyone looking to add more greens to their diet! This vibrant pasta in green sauce is a great main or side all year long. Vegetarian and easily vegan. 


  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 23 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, pasta, healthy
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian
  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 23 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, pasta, healthy
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons raw cashews*
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes, for serving, optional

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the 3 garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons cashews and boil for 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the 3 cups spinach leaves and 1/2 cup basil and cook until just wilted and bright green, about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the spinach, basil, garlic, and cashews and place them in a blender with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let cool slightly, then blend until creamy and smooth.
  5. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
  6. Return the cooked pasta to the sauce pan over low heat and add the sauce, along with the lemon juice. Toss, cooking for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce covers the noodles and is slightly thickened. Add in a splash or two of pasta water if the mixture becomes too thick.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste, adding more salt as needed and serve immediately.

Notes

This recipe can easily be doubled to fit a pound of pasta! 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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