A quick and easy pasta dish with cherry tomatoes, spinach and olives. The tomatoes are combined with cheese and creme fraiche to create a light sauce that makes for a fresh and tasty pasta dish. Full of flavour, budget-friendly and great for busy weeknights!
This is a handy recipe to have for days when you haven’t got much in the fridge! You know that day or two before you do your food shopping? Those days. That’s exactly how this recipe came about. And it has become a keeper in my house!
My family love pasta! Whether it’s quick and easy like this Red Pesto Pasta or Orzo Pasta Salad or when I have more time for a good pasta bake, pasta is a weekly occurrence in my house. This pasta dish is light enough for summer days but doesn’t skimp on the comfort factor that we all love in a pasta dish.
What You’ll Need
How To Make Pasta With Tomatoes And Spinach
This is just a quick visual guide. Please see the recipe card below for full instructions and ingredient list.
1. Heat the oil in a pan. Cook the chopped onions until soft, add garlic then add cherry tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes break down slightly then stir in the red pesto and the black olives.
2. Cook the pasta. Reserve approx half a cup of pasta water. Meanwhile, start adding the creme fraiche to the tomatoes starting with one tablespoon at a time, stirring all the time. Stir in the cheese then start stirring in some of the pasta water.
3. Add the spinach. Cook until wilted.
4. Once the pasta is cooked drain it then add to the sauce. Toss the pasta in the sauce then stir in the basil.
Recipe Notes And Tips
- Pasta – You can use almost any pasta to make this dish. We love penne or fusilli, you can also use spaghetti or tagliatelle.
- Tomatoes – I love cherry tomatoes in this dish but you can use regular tomatoes or even canned tomatoes if you want. If you do use larger tomatoes then I would chop them up first. If you can get your hands on canned cherry tomatoes then they work really well too.
- Spinach – Fresh is best for this dish and baby spinach is better especially if you are serving this to kids. Baby spinach is milder in flavour than regular spinach.
- Red Pesto – The pesto really lifts the flavour of the sauce in this dish. I always have a jar of red and green vegetarian pesto in my fridge so this is a great way to use up any almost empty jars.
- Creme Fraîche – Full-fat is really best for this dish but you can, of course, use low-fat if you want. If you don’t like creme fraîche you could swap it for cream cheese for an extra creamy sauce.
- Cheese – I add pecorino to this recipe, its nutty buttery flavour is perfect with the tomat0es. If you’re not vegetarian parmesan works very well too.
- Pro Tip – Reserving about half a cup of the pasta water and adding it to the sauce adds flavour to this sauce and helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Just make sure and add it slowly and stirring it until it is fully incorporated into the sauce each time. If you add the pasta water too quickly or all at once your sauce could split or you could end up with a very watery sauce.
- Add-Ins / Variations – This dish is great for adding in other veggies, mushrooms, roasted peppers or courgettes are great in this. We sometimes like to spice this up by adding a pinch of dried red chilli flakes.
More Great Vegetarian Pasta Dishes
- Mushroom Pesto Pasta – with freshly made spinach pesto and buttery, garlic mushrooms. Fresh, tasty, and easy to make you can have this on your table in just 30 minutes!
- Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta – this is perfect cosy comfort food. Really tasty and satisfying this is quick and easy to make and great for a tasty weeknight dinner.
- Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni – Fresh egg pasta sheets filled with creamy ricotta and spinach, in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with oozy mozzarella! These spinach and ricotta cannelloni are full of flavour.
Have you made this recipe? Please let me know how it went in the comments, it’s nice to get your feedback.
Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach
- 350 g (3½ cups) of penne pasta (dry weight)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium (1 cup chopped) brown onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press or finely grated
- 250 g (2 cups) cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 2 tbsp red pesto
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar optional
- 15 black olives cut in half
- 3 tbsp creme fraîche
- 50 g (½ a cup) vegetarian parmesan style cheese
- 115 g (3 packed cups) of baby spinach
- a small bunch of fresh basil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan.Add the chopped onion along with a small pinch of sea salt. Cook until the onion is translucent and springy. Make sure to stir the onion often to avoid burning.
- Add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the onion and cook for a minute or two.Now add the cherry tomatoes. Cook until they start to break down slightly.Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan followed by 2 tablespoons of red pesto. Stir well, you should have some sauce now. Cook for a minute or two then stir in the black olives.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Reserve about half a cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta.
- Add the creme fraîche to the tomatoes one tablespoon at a time stirring all the time. Once all the creme fraîche has been added stir in the grated cheese.Now start slowly adding the pasta water. Again you will need to do this slowly while stirring all the time. Add a few tablespoons at a time making sure the sauce is to your preference. Too much water will result in a watery sauce so go slowly. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
- Once you have the consistency you like add the spinach. I do this one handful at a time and once that has wilted down add the next handful.Finally, tip the cooked pasta into the pan, stir in the basil and serve immediately. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.
- Pasta - You can use almost any pasta to make this dish. We love penne or fusilli, you can also use spaghetti or tagliatelle. You can also use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.
- Tomatoes - I use cherry tomatoes for this dish but you can use regular tomatoes or even canned tomatoes if you want. If you do use larger tomatoes then I would hope them up first. If you can get your hands on canned cherry tomatoes then they work really well too.
- Spinach - Fresh is best for this dish and baby spinach is best. You can use frozen spinach if you want but I would defrost it, steam it and squeeze out any excess water before adding it to the tomatoes.
- Red Pesto - Any good quality pesto works well in this just make sure it is vegetarian and gluten-free if you need it to be.
- Creme Fraîche - Full-fat is really best for this dish but you can, of course, use low-fat if you want. If you don't like creme fraîche you could swap it for cream cheese for an extra creamy sauce.
- Cheese - I add pecorino to this if you're not vegetarian parmesan worked very well too.
- Pasta Water - Reserving about half a cup of the pasta water and adding it to the sauce is great for this dish. Just make sure and add it slowly and stirring it until it is fully incorporated into the sauce each time. If you add the pasta water too quickly or all at once your sauce could split or you could end up with a very watery sauce.
- Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is based on one of four servings.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.