An easy spinach and goat cheese pasta recipe, packed with healthy greens and tons of flavor from onion, garlic, and tangy goat cheese. A favorite quick pasta dish for busy weeknight dinners! Vegetarian and gluten free optional.
As much as I love the idea of starting out the new year as a clean-eating goddess of healthy salads, superfood smoothies and raw, vegan goodness, let’s be honest: it’s the middle of Winter. Winter with the occasional Polar Vortex, and whatever unusually-cold, unnamed weather system this latest snow storm is part of. It’s cold here. Single-digit, wish-I-could-hide-all-day-in-bed, cold.
When dinner comes around, all I want is a big, warm bowl of… comfort. Like steaming, hot bowls of pasta and hearty, savory soups and stews. However, I’d also like to maintain some semblance of health until the weather does warm up, so I’m getting sneaky with my superfoods, and adding them to my favorite comfort food dishes.
This pasta dish is my perfect compromise. It’s warm and satisfying – thanks to hearty pasta and creamy goat cheese – and also packed with onion, garlic, and a ton of dark, leafy greens.
I happen to love the combination of half-spinach/half-kale here, but Swiss chard, Rapini or even broccoli would be really nice in this dish as well. The best part about this recipe (did I mention the goat cheese?) is that it all comes together in less than thirty minutes, which is great for weeknights when I realize it’s 7:30 and haven’t even begun to think about what to make for dinner.
Oh, and we happen to already have all the ingredients in the fridge/pantry? Big bonus. You start the pasta water, heat the olive oil, chop the veggies, and the rest falls into place by the time the perfectly al dente penne is cooked.
Ingredients in this weeknight goat cheese pasta
This easy pasta is flavorful and satisfying, and you likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now. These are the ingredients you’ll need to make it:
- pasta: of course! I recommend choosing penne, fusilli, or casarecce, but you can use whatever short cut or long pasta shape you have.
- olive oil and butter: this is the time to use your best quality olive oil, and for extra flavor and richness, we’ll also add a bit of butter.
- garlic and onion: a quick caramelize of fresh garlic and yellow or sweet onion adds depth of flavor.
- spinach and kale: for vibrant color, freshness, and a major nutritional boost. I prefer the Lacinato variety of kale for this dish, but you can use curly kale, or opt for all spinach, Swiss chard, or your favorite green here as well.
- goat cheese: creamy and tangy, really the star of this dish.
- parmesan cheese: for a salty, umami finish.
- salt and pepper: just a pinch of each, to taste, to intensify all the other flavors.
Find all the exact measurements and recipe instructions below.
Variations to make it your own:
Like many pasta recipes, this spinach goat cheese pasta is super flexible. It can easily be adapted to use up leftover ingredients or according to your dietary needs. Here are a few ways to make it your own!
- fresh lemon: a squeeze of lemon juice or some zest adds such brightness. I always reach for Meyer lemon for added sweetness and flavor when available.
- add additional protein: grilled or rotisserie chicken, Italian sausage, or shrimp would all be great.
- boost the veggies: bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, or roasted tomatoes are lovely complements to the greens and goat cheese.
- add some crunch: add toasted breadcrumbs or pine nuts/walnuts for extra texture and flavor.
- make it gluten free: a super easy switch. Simply use your favorite brown rice, legume, or chickpea based gluten free pasta.
Be sure to let me know which version you try! Buon appetito!
Other healthy and delicious pasta recipes you’ll love:
- Pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage
- Burst tomato and corn pasta with miso butter
- Easy homemade chicken ramen
If you make this pasta, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, LauraPrint