All you need are a handful of ingredients, one pot, and a blender to make this 20 minute green pasta sauce. It will get your child eating spinach and lots of it too!
Green Pasta Sauce
I love veggie-loading pasta sauces (hello sweet potato sauce, beetroot pesto, hidden veggie sauce, and butternut squash sauce) because it's such an easy and delicious way to get more veggies into my children's diets that they may not otherwise eat.
And now this green pasta sauce or hulk pasta, as my kids like to call it.
Reasons you're going to fall in love with this sauce:
- SO easy to whip up with just 7 simple ingredients
- Delicious!! Tastes so bright and fresh
- A great alternative to tomato-based red pasta sauces
- Versatile - pairs well with any protein or vegetable and can be enjoyed both cold (like pasta salad) or warm
- Perfect for school lunch boxes. My kids love it cold, which makes things even easier.
And here are more tomato-free pasta sauces to try!
- Pasta - can use any shape but I've listed my favorites below
- Spinach - I recommend using fresh baby spinach instead of regular-sized spinach, which tends to taste more bitter. You can also use chopped frozen spinach, but be sure to thaw and remove any excess liquid.
- Avocado - Be sure to use ripe avocado. It will add creaminess to the sauce as well as a boost of healthy fats.
- Parmesan cheese
- Lemon - This is a KEY ingredient so don't skip it! Both the lemon juice and zest truly brighten up the sauce AND help enhance the absorption of iron in the spinach.
Choosing the Best Pasta
While any pasta shape will work with this sauce, I prefer the short pasta shapes with ridges or grooves, like fusili, rigatoni, or corkscrew, as they really soak up this creamy green sauce. Orzo would be delicious too!
As for the type of pasta, you can use regular, whole wheat, gluten-free pasta, or legume based pasta (e.g. chickpea, edamame, lentil) for extra protein, iron, and fiber.
- Bring a large pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions.
- Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water and drain. Set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, combine spinach and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender.
- Blend until smooth. For best results, use a high-powered blender so there are no chunks of spinach.
- Pour the smooth sauce back into the pan you cooked the pasta in. Cook, stirring frequently, on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes until heated through. Add some pasta water if the sauce gets too thick.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss.
Tips for Success
- Be sure to save some pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. This starchy water really helps the sauce stick to the noodles as well as adds silkiness to the dish.
- Once blended, taste the sauce and adjust to your liking. We like it really garlicky so oftentimes will add more. You can add more lemon juice too.
Instead of water, add vegetable broth, ½ cup of canned coconut milk (not the one from a carton) or coconut cream to the green sauce. It will add an extra layer of flavor and creaminess.
Add fresh basil or other fresh herbs of choice for an additional burst of freshness. You can also add more lemon zest.
If dairy-free, use vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
How to Serve Green Pasta
To round out the meal, enjoy this green pasta with some protein, such as:
Extra veggies never hurt 😉
Additionally, If you want to incorporate more variety into your child's diet, store the green pasta sauce separately. You can stir it into oatmeal, lentils, spread onto toast and waffles...Endless possibilities.
Start with just a small amount so they don't feel overwhelmed and offer more if your baby seems interested. This will also help reduce food waste. Here I served the pasta with a steam roasted carrot strip and mashed white beans.
This phase of feeding is oftentimes the most challenging as there are so many developmental changes that take place, like seeking independence, testing boundaries, and developing fear of new foods (food neophobia peaks between the ages of 2-6).
And it's not uncommon for toddlers and kids to reject anything green. If that's your child, try serving as pictured - a very small portion of green pasta alongside plain pasta.
Since kids generally love to dip, serving a small portion of the sauce by itself can also encourage them to give it a taste.
As hard as it may be, don't get discouraged if they only eat the plain pasta. Just seeing counts as exposure, and the more they see and become familiar, the more likely they are to try in the future.
Is your toddler becoming picky?
Arm yourself with these strategies that will transform your mealtimes!
Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can enjoy both cold or warm. Reheat briefly in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash or water.
You can also freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight
More Easy Pasta Dishes
Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!
Green pasta sauce
- 6 ounces baby spinach
- 2 tablespons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium avocado
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 garlic cloves, can also use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ cup grated parmesan (2 ounces)
- ½ cup water, broth, or canned coconut milk
- 8 ounces pasta
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water and drain.
- Add the rest of the ingredients into a food blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce into the same pot you cooked the pasta in. Cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add some reserved pasta water if it gets too thick.
- Add pasta and toss. Top with additional parmesan cheese or lemon juice, as desired.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can enjoy both cold or warm. Reheat briefly in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash or water.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.