Easy One-Pot Pasta Recipe With Spinach And Tomatoes Your Family Will Love

Pasta is one of our go-to choices when planning weeknight dinners. It's inexpensive and easy to make, and — when you make the right recipe — it's finished in less time than it takes to pack into the car to get take-out. It didn't seem like making pasta could get any easier until we discovered it's possible to ditch the gigantic pot of boiling water. We simmer the pasta directly in the sauce with this delicious one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes, saving time and creating fewer dishes to clean.

The sauce is deceptively simple, but it's infused with the incredible flavors of onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. The starches from the cooking pasta thicken it to the perfect level, clinging onto the noodles to deliver its flavorful goodness with each bite. It's so much better than store-bought sauce, and it's almost as easy to make. Serve this easy pasta as a vegetarian main for meatless Monday, or scroll down to see our ideas for making it heartier with meats like leftover rotisserie chicken.

Gather the ingredients for this one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes

If you have a well-stocked pantry, you probably won't even have to visit the grocery store before making this one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes. The sauce is a simple (but delicious) combination that starts with juicy tomatoes and low-sodium chicken broth. Feel free to use fresh tomatoes if you have them on hand. Heirloom or cherry tomatoes work well in this recipe, or you can use a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes if that's more convenient.

From there, the sauce is seasoned with onions, garlic, and a few spices — we used Italian seasoning, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes. If you don't have Italian seasoning, swap in other dried spices, like oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, or rosemary. The only other ingredients you'll need are butter, spaghetti, baby spinach, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If you're following a dairy-free diet, feel free to use olive oil instead of butter and skip the Parmesan. Gluten-free noodles work well in this recipe, too.

You can use fresh or canned tomatoes to make our one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes

If you're making this dish in the summertime, you'll probably want to use fresh tomatoes to make this one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes. Those juicy tomatoes at the farmers market are incredibly flavorful, as are the ones grown in your backyard garden. You'll need about 25 to 30 halved cherry or grape tomatoes to equal the two cups needed, or two large heirloom tomatoes. Make sure to capture all the juices when you're chopping the tomatoes. That juice is an important part of the sauce.

In the winter, you're probably better off using canned tomatoes. These products are preserved during peak tomato season, so they're picked and processed when they're at their freshest. The off-season tomatoes you'll find in the winter produce section taste like a whisper of their summer selves. They're often harvested green and unripe, giving them time to ripen in the truck as they travel the long distances to reach your plate. Canned diced tomatoes also contain calcium chloride and citric acid, which Simply Recipes says help the tomatoes keep their shape.

Choosing the best noodles for this one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes

Most pasta shapes will work well for this one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes. We chose whole-wheat spaghetti because we had an open box in the pantry. The noodles were too long to fit into our Dutch oven, though. It was an easy fix: We broke them in half to ensure each one cooked properly by being submerged in the simmering sauce. Other types of long noodles would work equally well, like linguine or fettuccine.

If you have short pasta on hand, feel free to give it a try. These types of pasta are well-known for their use in mac and cheese or pasta casserole recipes, but they'll taste great with this sauce, too. Choose from the classic ziti, rigatoni, conchiglie shells, or penne shapes, or go fancy with corkscrew cavatappi, ruffle-edged radiatori, spiralized fusilli, twisted gemelli, or wagon wheel rotelle.

Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly depending on the type of noodle you choose. Taste the pasta after six to seven minutes, and use your senses to determine if it needs more time.

Cook the onions to start this one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes

Our one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes starts by making the flavorful pasta sauce. We begin by heating the butter (or olive oil, if you prefer) over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or a tall-sided saute pan. Avoid using a skillet with fluted sides here, as the liquid can bubble over later when we add the pasta. Add the chopped onions to the pot and cook them until they're golden brown and softened, about eight minutes. You'll want to stir the onions occasionally to keep them from burning.

Then, add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Cook the mixture for about two minutes, stirring frequently to keep the small garlic pieces from burning. This step fills the whole house with the irresistible aroma of cooked garlic, and it also toasts the Italian seasoning. Cooking spices in a small amount of fat like this is also known as blooming the spices, a process that brings out their essential oils and helps their flavor shine.

Add the pasta and continue cooking this one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes

From here, we'll finish our sauce by adding the tomatoes (and their juices) along with the chicken broth. It's going to seem like a very thin sauce, but that's just because it's not finished cooking yet! We'll also add the pasta directly to the pot during this stage. No need to cook the pasta separately: The sauce contains enough liquid from the broth to cook the pasta, which will release its starches into the sauce to thicken it to the perfect consistency. If you're using a long pasta like spaghetti, you'll probably have to break it in half to get it to fit.

Bring the sauce to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer, covering the pot and cooking for eight to ten minutes until the pasta is al dente. By the time the pasta is finished cooking, you'll notice the sauce has become thick enough to coat the noodles. Nine minutes was perfect for our whole-wheat spaghetti, but each pasta shape cooks in its own time. If you're using a different pasta shape, start testing the pasta for doneness at the seven-minute mark.

Wilt the spinach in batches to finish your one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes

From here, the pasta is almost ready to serve. Uncover the pot and add the spinach in batches, stirring until the first addition of spinach is wilted before adding the next handful. We used fresh spinach in this step because it has a robust flavor that pairs well with the acidic tomatoes. If you don't have any fresh spinach, frozen spinach also works here. Just make sure it's thawed and you've squeezed out the excess liquid before you add it to the pot. Otherwise, the sauce will become too thin. Other hearty greens work here, too, like stemmed and very thinly sliced kale or swiss chard.

When all the spinach is wilted, remove the pot from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Taste the pasta and season it with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the pasta with a side salad and a piece of baguette or garlic bread to scoop up the leftover sauce from the bottom of the bowl.

Optional additions to this one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes

This one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes is plenty filling on its own. It makes a great vegetarian dish for meatless Monday, so don't feel like you have to change anything about it. That said, you can absolutely add meat to this pasta dish to make it heartier for the meat-eaters in the house.

Leftover chicken is probably the easiest addition because it's already cooked and ready to go. If you just picked up a warm rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, it won't need to be heated. Simply add the shredded meat alongside the spinach to incorporate it into the pasta. Refrigerated chicken can be reheated by adding it to the pasta during the last minute. By the time the spinach and Parmesan cheese are added, the chicken should be warmed through.

Other easy additions to this pasta include sausage, ground beef, or ground turkey. You'll want to cook these proteins before the onions and remove them from the pot, discarding the grease before moving on. Then, stir them back in along with the spinach.

How did our one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes taste?

We were pleasantly surprised at the depth of flavor that developed in this one-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes. It's such a simple recipe, but it turned out fantastic! The pasta had the perfect texture, and it released enough starch to thicken the tomato-broth sauce. The onions and garlic provided plenty of flavor, and the finishing Parmesan cheese really brought the dish together. It was great as a vegetarian main dish, and no one had any complaints when we added sausage to the mix.

The leftovers are good for three to five days, but keep in mind that the dish won't be quite the same the next day. The texture was slightly off because the pasta continued to absorb liquid as it sat. We added 1/4 cup of water when reheating to get the sauce to the right consistency, which worked out nicely for thinning out the sauce. The dish still tasted great, but the spaghetti was definitely a little softer than we prefer.

Easy One-Pot Pasta Recipe With Spinach And Tomatoes Your Family Will Love
4.6 from 5 ratings
It didn't seem like making pasta could get any easier until we discovered it's possible to ditch the gigantic pot of boiling water. We simmer the pasta directly in the sauce with this delicious one-pot pasta with spinach and tomatoes, saving time and creating fewer dishes to clean.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
4
servings
how to make One-pot pasta recipe with spinach and tomatoes
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes or 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
  1. In a Dutch oven or a large, tall-sided saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're golden brown and softened, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices, chicken broth, and spaghetti. You may need to break the spaghetti in half, depending on the size of your pot. Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer.
  4. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
  5. Uncover the pot and add the spinach in batches, stirring until all the spinach is wilted. If you're using thawed, frozen spinach, squeeze out the excess liquid before adding it to the pot.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  7. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The pasta will continue to absorb liquid as it sits, so add ¼ cup water to each serving before reheating.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 341
Total Fat 7.9 g
Saturated Fat 2.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 6.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.5 g
Dietary Fiber 6.1 g
Total Sugars 5.9 g
Sodium 701.9 mg
Protein 16.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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