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 Spinach Pasta Sauce
I love veggie-loading pasta sauces (hello sweet potato sauce, beetroot pesto, 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.
Spinach (and other leafy greens) in its raw form is a challenging food for my 5 year old, especially. But he doesn't mind it in pancakes, muffins, and green smoothies.
And now this hulk pasta!
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.
- 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!
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 blender.
- Blend until smooth. For best results, use a high-powered blender so there are no chunks of spinach.
- Pour the 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.
If dairy-free, use vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
To round out the meal, enjoy this green sauce 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 with spinach
- 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.
Tammy @ The Happy Handicap says
God bless you Min. This is a lovely post. I was full of inspiration before I even reached the dressing recipe. I pray you are met with acceptance and someone takes time to share dinner with you and hungryman. Remember, God can shine through shyness without you saying a word! I'm stopping by from the POFH Monday Pin It Hop. Thanks for joining in. I'm co-hosting this month. Let's all keep loving our neighbors.
The Happy Handicap
Thank you so much, Tammy, for this lovely comment! Loved your post about craving God and am so glad we connected!
Your salad looks so delicious!Salads are my favorites during the summer months!
I would love you to come and link up at our party here:
Thank you for stopping by and for the invite! 🙂
Beautiful post! And wonderful salad - it looks so good. Substituting Greek yogurt for mayo is something I do too. Visiting from All My Bloggy Friends link party.
Thank you, Marie, for stopping by!
Erin @ Table for 7 says
I remember bottled green goddess dressing as a kid..this look sooo much better 🙂 It's a beautiful salad and your pictures are awesome! I would like to invite you my weekly linky party Share Your Stuff Tuesdays
Hope you can join us!
HI Erin! Thank you for stopping by and for the invite. I'm heading over there right now 😉
thanks for sharing...this looks so divine. so going to pin this. Found this on All My Bloggy Friends...have a great day.
Hi Karen! Thank you for stopping by ;). Hope you like this recipe as much as I do!
Kalamity Kelli says
Caught you on Marvelous Mondays - how could I pass up the recipe to my all time favorite dressing as a kid?!?! Thank you so much!
Hi Kelli! It's nice to meet you. Thank you for stopping by!
Here is the link to my vegan cilantro-tahini dressing: https://veganmiam.com/recipes/cilantro-tahini-dressing, you will love it and won't realize it's vegan! 🙂
Hi Rika! Thank you so much for the link. A fantastic recipe, indeed! Can’t wait to try. And yes, it is lovely to meet another Asian blogging couple
I love green goddess dressing, but the vegan versions are pretty tasty (plus cholesterol-free) due to the ingredient tahini. I think I posted something similar to that, if you look it up: cilantro tahini dressing or I will post it in the next comment. Nice to meet another asian blogger (or couple, hehe).
Laura @ The Rookie Cook says
Yummy, this salad looks awesome! I have never heard of that book before, but I am going to have to check it out. We love salads around here and it sounds so fun!
As for the other book, I think I need to get that too. I am so bad about reaching out (another shy one over here!) and don't know most of our neighbors that don't go to our church 🙁
Hi Laura! Yes you must check out both of the books. You won't regret it ;). Yes, I am super nervous to meet our neighbors but excited at the same time! It's time to get out of my comfort zone..
Lisa@ Cooking with Curls says
Two salads in one night, and both contain anchovy! I think that is a sign for me to use anchovy, what do you think? I knew my neighbors when we moved in 14 years ago,but most have moved away now. The replacements all have VERY small children, so we have NOTHING in common. A bad excuse maybe, but seriously, what could we possibly have to talk about? 🙂 I do wave , if that counts for anything...LOL
Haha! Yes, Lisa. It's def a sign and you should start using anchovy ASAP ;). As for getting to know the neighbors, I too am afraid that I'll have nothing in common with them as most of them have children and we don't. But I wouldn't know until I actually spend time with them so I'm going to do just that :). Waving is great. With a smile even better hehe.
Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana says
You always inspire me with your posts, Min!! I am hoping to start a women's ministry at our church, and this would be a great book to read together. I, too, could definitely be more "neighborly"...thanks for the reminder that there is much good work that we can do right where we are. Miss you, friend!!
Hi Maura!!! I've missed you!! That's awesome that you are starting a women's ministry! So important...Having grown up so sheltered, this book is challenging me in so many ways. Def worth a read! Miss you too. Say hello to everyone for me 🙂
felicia | Dish by Dish says
This post is absolutely beautiful Min. Thanks for this lovely reminder to love God and our neighbors. sometimes it sure takes alot of patience and it´s difficult, but it really helps with friends like you who are constantly reminding and encouraging me to keep on loving, no matter what. You´re right - we don't need to go on a mission trip of get out of our social circles to spread God's love, we can start right where we are. so thank you my dear friend for this.
And of course, this salad looks beautiful! I've been eating quite a few salads with Val these days (cos she's into healthy eating and is trying to return to Singapore without gaining any weight from Argentine food), so I'll be taking a leaf out of your salads book one day!
big hug my dear!
Your comments always warm my heart, Felicia. Thank you. I'm glad my thoughts resonated with you. You always encourage and motivate me too!
And yay to healthy eating! With meals like your chicken quinoa salad, she would not be gaining any weight that's for sure 😉
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
I love that you have such a sense of purpose with your life and approach to your community. This salad is presented impeccably too!
I've realized that everything has been about me me me lately. No wonder I'm so grumpy all the time. I look forward to investing in people around me.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says
I haven't had green goddess dressing for a long time and your salad looks wonderful.
Hi Maureen! It was my first time trying, and it was marvelous! I've def been missing out 😉
Yvonne @ bitterbaker says
What a light and fresh salad! And I absolutely love the dressing recipe, sounds delicious!
Thank you, Yvonne!
Abbie @ Needs Salt says
This salad looks so beautiful! Greek yogurt + garlic? you got me. 🙂 Sounds amazing.
p.s. I love what you said up there about exploring God. You're right--the best place to start showing God's love is right where you are. Sometimes you'll find most hungry people where you least expect them. 🙂
Thanks, Abbie! And yes, I'm beginning to realize that I don't need to look far.
dixya| food, pleasure, and health says
I have been meaning to make this dressing. Thanks Min. Love the basil substitution because I have plenty in my tiny patio too and it will be used wonderfully here soon 🙂
I've been adding basil to just about anything and everything ;). It works beautifully in the dressing so hope you give it a try!