This Creamy Spinach Pasta is just a wee bit indulgent, with its splash of cream and sprinkle of Parmesan cheese in each serving, but it's also chock-full of spinach ( or chard if you're feeling fancy) to keep you eating plenty of veggies. Use a whole grain pasta for even an even more healthful dinner. In any case, it's an easy one-dish dinner that can be served as traditional pasta or made ahead and baked as a casserole, creating a crispy, browned, irresistible crust.
Note: For a quicker cooking time, but more dishes, start cooking the garlic and the greens in a pan while the pasta boils in a separate pot.
- 2 bunches spinach or Swiss chard (or a 10-ounce bag of spinach leaves)
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for the pasta water
- 8 ounces fusilli, corkscrew, or rotini pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- optional: 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- optional: 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan or other hard grating cheese, plus more to taste
- If baking as a casserole, preheat an oven to 375F. In any case, bring about 2 quarts of water to boil in a pot over high heat.
- Meanwhile, rinse and trim the spinach or rinse and prep the chard. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Butter an 8-by-8 baking dish if you're making the casserole version.
- Add salt to the boiling water (enough so it tastes a bit salty) and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender to the bite. Drain the pasta. Set the pasta aside and return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add the olive oil and garlic to the pot, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spinach or chard and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until the spinach or chard starts to wilt, cover, and cook until completely wilted, about 2 minutes for spinach and 5 minutes for chard.
- Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook to blend flavors, about 2 minutes.
- Add the nutmeg and black pepper, if you like. Add the pasta and stir to combine thoroughly. The greens will want to stick together, so you will need to break them up a bit if you want them evenly distributed in the pasta. Cover and cook so the pasta can soak up some of the juices, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in half of the cheese. Either serve as-is in pasta bowls topped with the rest of the cheese or transfer the pasta mixture to the baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted and the mixture is bubbling and starting to brown on top, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Make ahead tip: Do everything but pop it in the oven. Cook the pasta and the sauce, mix, put in the baking dish, add the cheese, cover and chill for up to 2 days before baking. Add a few minutes on the baking time if it goes in the oven cold.
Double up: Double the recipe and bake in a 9x13 inch pan to feed 8 people in one easy go.
Add more veggies: Want even more vegetables? No problem. Just cook more greens and consider upping the amount of cream proportionally so you get a similarly yummy sauce.