Weeknight Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

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 friendly.

Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta | Fork Knife Swoon

A cozy spinach and goat cheese pasta

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.

Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta | Fork Knife Swoon

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.

Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta | Fork Knife Swoon

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.

Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta | Fork Knife Swoon

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:

If you make this spinach and goat cheese 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, Laura

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta | Fork Knife Swoon

Weeknight Kale, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta


  • Author: Laura Bolton
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 24 Servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

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 friendly.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 lb dry pasta
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 cloves fresh garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, minced
  • 3 cups (packed) kale leaves, rough stems removed and chopped
  • 3 cups (packed) spinach leaves
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste *

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-heat, until the butter is melted and the oil just begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and softened, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. When the pasta has about two minutes to go, add the kale to the skillet, followed by the spinach, and stir constantly until the greens just begin to wilt. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. The greens will continue to cook from the heat of the pasta, so be careful not to overcook.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot (off of the heat). Do not rinse the pasta.
  5. Add the greens mixture to the pasta, followed by the the goat cheese and parmesan, and stir to combine.
  6. Stir in the reserved pasta water as needed for a creamier sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!!

Notes

You can use any combination of greens in this recipe: spinach, kale, Swiss chard, rapini etc.

Make it gluten free: Just switch out the pasta. My favorite is Jovial gluten free pasta.

  • Category: dinner, pasta
  • Method: saute
  • Cuisine: american, italian

Keywords: spinach and goat cheese pasta, kale, easy, weeknight pasta, healthy, greens, penne, 30 minutes or less, gluten free

Leave a Rating & Review

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

45 Comments

  1. 10.5.21
    and1984 said:

    How should I avoid the greens clumping in the pasta? I used baby Kale she spinach leaves. Should they be shredded into strips before cooking in the garlic oil?

    • 10.8.21
      Laura said:

      Hi! I usually just roughly chop the greens before adding to the pan. Or, if they’re small (like baby spinach or baby kale) I’ll just leave them whole. But you can certainly do thinner strips if you prefer! They’ll just cook a little bit faster. Enjoy!

      • 10.8.21
        and1984 said:

        Thank you! 👍

  2. 5.3.20
    Melissa Tzourakis said:

    This is a great recipe. Very fresh tasting . The garlic we used was very fresh and pungent and really made the dish. I split the recipe to please the vegetarian and meat lovers in the house and added mushrooms to half and chicken to the other half after the onions cooked and before adding the greens. I reserved some of the pasta water and added some after the cheese. It helped melt and incorporate the cheese and kept everything very moist. Next time may add some pine nuts and lemon zest. This will go on our regular rotation. Thank you!

  3. 3.7.20
    Diana said:

    YUMMMMM!!!!! I did not find this to be dry like other reviewers said. My hubby added rotisserie chicken. It was so good and so easy and I love anything with lots of veggies! thank you thank you!

  4. 3.23.18
    Shannon said:

    I made this with all kale and added toasted walnuts for extra protein and flavor. It was very tasty, but we did find it dry – I wish I’d read the reviews and added a little broth.

  5. 1.8.18
    Heather said:

    i added bacon to it, and used tasty cheese instead of goats cheese because I didn’t have any. looks and smells delish!

  6. 10.8.17
    Peggy said:

    I just made this it was delicious I never had goat cheese before I added green olives ppepe

  7. 8.17.17
    JTB said:

    Loved,loved,loved this recipe, my kids as well. I added left over cooked chicken and a little bit of chicken broth to give it a little bite more moisture. Definetly one to save! Thanks a bunch!

    • 8.29.17
      Laura said:

      Thank you!! This is one of my favorites as well 🙂

  8. 3.13.17
    Brittany said:

    What can I use as a replacement for goat cheese?

  9. 2.16.16
    Antonella said:

    I am Italian and love pasta! I am just starting the recipe but cannot find any converters to give me the dosage in grams . I am going to use my intuition but cannot help feeling disappointed with recipes written only for the US, especially that oz and cups are used differently depending on the ingredient! Veto confusing for us European. I am in the UK. Would you consider adding a converter link to your links, in the future?

  10. 1.6.16
    DEBRA said:

    I made it with bow tie pasta and added Kalamata olives and tomatoes. Very very good.

    • 1.6.16
      Laura said:

      Thanks Debra! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, and love the idea of adding Kalamatas!

  11. 5.14.15

    This recipe looks great, pasta with this ingredients must be delicious 🙂

  12. 5.4.15
    Kate said:

    I made this after an exhausting 12 hour shift for my boyfriend and I. It was SO easy, the timing was perfect, and it was absolutely delicious. I added some crumbled spicy chicken sausage for a protein kick. Definitely a new favorite in our little home!

    • 5.4.15
      Laura said:

      Thanks so much, Kate! This is one of my go-to weeknight recipes too, so glad you and your bf loved it!

  13. 3.1.15
    Aga said:

    Absolutely gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. 1.2.15
    Deborah said:

    I love pasta…. like most folks I could eat a form of pasta daily. However my sugar levels don’t allow me to indulge daily.
    But I have found a pasta that will let me enjoy the meal without much guilt. It is a healthy carb pasta by Dreamfields. Great texture, very flavorful less carbs, less sugar more fiber and protein.
    The only trouble is finding the product, I ended up ordering on line so that I could purchase a variety of types of pasta.
    Will be making this for my dinner tonight…. any dish that allows me goat cheese and pasta is a winner in my book.

    • 1.4.15
      Laura said:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Deborah! Hope you enjoy!

  15. 11.7.14
    Esther said:

    Yum! Made this last night. So so good. 😀

  16. 11.6.14
    casey said:

    I’m confused… do you cook the greens in the pasta? It seems so,

    When the pasta has about two minutes to go, add the kale, followed by the spinach, and stir constantly until the greens just begin to wilt.

    but then the instructions say

    Pour the greens mixture over the pasta,

    Thanks!

    • 11.6.14
      Laura said:

      Hi Casey! Nope, the greens cook in the skillet with the onion, and then it’s all added to the pasta before serving. I’ve updated the recipe to make it a little more clear. Hope you enjoy!

  17. 8.21.14
    Sara said:

    Help!, I don’t understand step #4

    • 8.21.14
      Laura said:

      So once the pasta has finished cooking, pour the pasta in a colander to drain the water. Add the drained pasta back into the pot you used to cook it in, then add the cooked spinach and kale, the goat cheese and Parmesan and stir together until combined. Does that help? Please let me know if there was a specific part that was confusing… Hope you enjoy!!

  18. 7.17.14
    Andrea said:

    This was delicious – I used a whole grain penne and added some mushrooms!

    • 7.18.14
      Laura said:

      So glad you liked it! I definitely will have to try this with mushrooms!

  19. 7.2.14
    Liselle said:

    Brilliant recipe Laura. I’ve been wary of kale despite the hype but, like you, I LOVE goat’s cheese so thought it worth trying. A wonderful combination, tasty, fresh, easy to do and yes, tastes much more wicked than it is! Many thanks.

    • 7.12.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Liselle! So glad you love the recipe as much as we do! The goat cheese does it for me, every time… 🙂

  20. 3.25.14
    Millicent said:

    This was delish! We are a military family overseas and to no surprise the commissary was out of goat cheese (it’s been two weeks now and the locals don’t eat it!) So I improvised and used plain feta cheese and some Parmesan (it was all I had). I tested it on me an my one and a half year old. We both had seconds! This is so good. I can’t wait to serve this with chicken or shrimp for guest someday! Yes, even though it was hardy I may try it with a meat…or Italian bread!? Omg this was yummy and has tons of possibilities and that’s what I love about it!! When my hubby returns from sea he will love this! Thanks! (I am trying to put five stars but for some reason it won’t let me :/ )

  21. 3.20.14
    Emily said:

    Made this today. I thought it was great and tasted less healthy than it was. My mom said it was “Tasty, but weird.” I don’t think she likes goat cheese, but I am all about goat cheese. So if you like goat cheese, you will probably like this pasta.

  22. 2.26.14
    Liz said:

    Thank you for the nice recipe.

    • 2.26.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Liz! Glad you like it!

  23. 2.6.14
    Cindy said:

    Hmmmm. Yummy. I wonder what this would taste like with whole wheat pasta & maybe some sun-dried tomatoes tossed in w/the greens…I’m not always crazy about the whole wheat pasta texture & taste, but I’m am choosing healthier carbs. Any suggestions on brands?

    • 2.12.14
      Laura said:

      Hi Cindy! We eat whole wheat pasta most of the time, actually, and this recipe is great with either type. Sun dried tomatoes would be great in this too, or even roasted red peppers. I’m not a great help on brands – I tend to buy the store brand organic pasta in both traditional and whole wheat. For us in North Carolina, that’s Harris Teeter, and I think theirs is pretty good. Hope you like the recipe!!

  24. 2.1.14
    Lena said:

    I think I could eat pasta every day of my life – and wouldn’t even feel guilty about it. But adding greens into my pasta does sound good, and I love the goat cheese addition here. Most everything is better with goat cheese.

    • 2.2.14
      Laura said:

      I’m the same way… I love love love pasta. And agreed! Just about everything is better with goat cheese.

  25. 1.29.14

    Oh man I can so go for a big bowl of this pasta right now! Love how you added in superfoods into comfort food! And you are so right… we need comforting, warming food with all this crazy cold weather going on! Can’t wait to make this 🙂

    • 1.29.14
      Laura said:

      Hi Chris! I hope you love it! 🙂

  26. 1.29.14

    This looks beautiful!

    Somedays a bowl of pasta really hits the spot, especially when you’re in the middle of a polar vortex 😉 And with the added greens there’s no reason at all to feel guilty. Love it!

    • 1.29.14
      Laura said:

      I’m pretty sure if you add enough spinach/kale to anything it can be called healthy… 🙂

  27. 1.28.14

    These are my favorite kind of dinners, easy and simple, but refined. Plus, goat cheese is always a good idea.

    • 1.28.14
      Laura said:

      I have a serious problem with saying no to goat cheese… 🙂

Hi! I'm Laura, the food-obsessed cook, writer, and photographer behind Fork Knife Swoon, where you'll find mostly sweet, seasonal recipes and stories from my Northern Virginia kitchen.

All photography and content copyright Laura Bolton ©2021.