This green spinach pasta sauce is fast (8 minutes!), easy, healthy, and super delicious. It’s creamy, garlicky, and packed with nutrients – for a simple dairy-free, oil-free, nut-free, midweek meal the entire family will love!
10-Minute Basil, Garlic, and Spinach Pasta Sauce
I’ve already shared a simple one-pot pasta and quick 20-minute garlic noodles. Now it’s the time to go one step further with this super quick and easy spinach pasta sauce that you can throw together in less than 10 minutes with one saucepan and a food processor. Serve the green pasta sauce with pasta of choice or low-carb zucchini noodles for a fuss-free, crowd-pleasing meat-free meal.
Usually, you can find me sneakily hiding vegetables in everything (like this cauliflower-based alfredo sauce and a zucchini pizza crust). But this vibrant spinach sauce has no issues with advertising itself. All while still being proudly adult and child approved. It’s creamy, comforting, and flavorful, yet light enough not to weigh you down.
With a combination of spinach, basil, garlic, and nutritional yeast, this healthy pasta sauce hits several flavor notes of a pesto sauce (like this avocado pesto) but is much lighter and lower calorie thanks to the omission of oil and dairy. It’s also pantry friendly, fairly low budget, and packed with nutrients and antioxidants, which is always a bonus!
The Health Benefits of Spinach
We’ve probably all grown up being told to eat our greens. In the case of spinach, I can certainly see why. Here are just a few benefits found (read more on Healthline) in this healthy spinach sauce.
- It’s loaded with several vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and K. These are important for immune function, skin, blood clotting, etc.
- An excellent source of plant-based iron, which is an essential mineral for healthy blood.
- Contains moderate levels of calcium and folic acid.
- Rich in antioxidants, which helps protect cells from oxidative stress and fight inflammation.
- Contains several plant compounds that help ward off infection, promote heart health, improve eye health, and more.
- Contains lots of nitrates, which moderate blood pressure and improve heart health.
Looking for more ways to enjoy this impressive leafy green? Check out my easy spinach tortillas, spinach artichoke dip, or spinach and ‘ricotta’ cannelloni!
The Green Pasta Sauce Ingredients
All you require are simple ingredients to prepare this spinach sauce for pasta, including:
- Spinach: You can use fresh or frozen (and thawed, with excess liquid removed) spinach leaves. Use regular or baby spinach.
- Basil: Just a small amount really packs in tons of flavor to the creamy spinach sauce.
- Nutritional yeast: To add nutty, cheesy, umami flavor.
- Aromatics: I used a combination of fresh garlic cloves and onion, and also onion powder.
- Coconut milk: I use light coconut milk (canned). Alternatively, use another plant-based milk that is higher in fat, like cashew milk.
- Seasonings: All you need to season this spinach pasta recipe is salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- Starch: Use cornstarch or potato starch to thicken the creamy spinach pasta sauce.
Serve it with the pasta of your choice (regular, whole wheat, or gluten-free). I usually enjoy it with long noodles, i.e., fettuccine, spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, etc. You could also use smaller shapes like fusilli or rigatoni. It’s best to use pasta with lots of ridges or grooves to stick to, but you could even mix it into orzo or giant couscous.
- Lemon: A splash of lemon juice (or lime juice) brightens the flavor of the green noodles and, as a bonus, helps our bodies to absorb the iron in the spinach better. Boost the flavor further with the addition of lemon zest.
- Nuts/seeds: The addition of ¼ cup of lightly toasted pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, or pistachios will add extra protein and texture. It also helps transform this into more of a spinach pesto.
- Roasted garlic: Instead of fresh garlic, use roasted, which is wonderfully mellow and caramelized. You’ll need to increase the amount, adjusting to taste.
- Herbs: Swap out the basil for parsley and/or cilantro.
- Spice: Use red pepper flakes or chili/cayenne powder to add some heat to the green pasta sauce.
- Cheese: To boost the cheesy flavor further, mix in some vegan cream cheese or even a vegan Parmesan cheese alternative.
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
How to Make Spinach Pasta Sauce?
This healthy pasta sauce takes just 8 minutes to prepare, perfect for preparing while your pasta of choice cooks.
- First, transfer all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
- Then, transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring regularly.
- Allow it to simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until it thickens. Voilà, the spinach sauce is ready to toss with the pasta of your choice!
How to Store?
Store: Allow it to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. The leftovers taste great chilled or reheated.
Freeze: I haven’t tried, but I think it should freeze well. Allow it to cool, then transfer into a freezer-safe, airtight container or Ziplock bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using it chilled or reheated.
Reheat: Use either the stove or a microwave to reheat the spinach pasta sauce. Add a splash of additional liquid (water, milk, or vegetable stock) if needed, to loosen up the sauce.
Once you’ve chosen the pasta to serve this spinach sauce with, there are several ways to add to the recipe, including:
- Vegetables: I particularly like corn, peas, sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, roasted bell pepper, olives, roasted cherry tomatoes (sun-dried tomatoes), and roasted mixed veggies. Pre-cook, then mix them in once served.
- Protein: You could serve the pasta with green sauce with crispy tofu, tempeh, or your favorite meat alternative. White beans or chickpeas could also work to boost the plant-based protein.
- Bread: You could serve the spinach fettuccine/pasta with a slice of crusty bread or baguette OR some garlic bread (or garlic naan).
- Salad: I often serve pasta dishes with a simple side salad (i.e., lettuce, cucumber, tomato).
Could I substitute the spinach?
This method will also work with other leafy greens like kale (as I’ve done in this kale avocado pasta sauce) or even chard. However, you will need to cook the sauce for slightly longer (I like to wilt the kale in the pasta water before blending it).
Can I omit the starch?
Omitting the starch will leave you with a very thin pasta sauce, so I don’t recommend it. However, you could swap out the coconut milk for one avocado with a splash of dairy-free milk. This not only adds heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals but will also thicken the sauce without using starch.
Can I use an immersion blender?
Technically, yes, but you may not get the spinach pasta sauce as smooth.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Utilize pasta water: When you pair pasta with spinach sauce, save a little of the starchy pasta water to mix into this sauce and help it coat the noodles. You can also use it to thin the sauce if desired.
- Use a high-powered food processor/blender: This will ensure you have a super smooth and creamy green pasta sauce.
- Adjust to taste: Adjust any of the seasonings and the garlic to taste.
- Using the leftovers: This creamy green spinach sauce is good for more than just pasta. Use the leftovers as a salad dressing, stirred into cooked grains, or even dolloped over potatoes.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- Creamy lemon pasta
- Garlic butter pasta
- Roasted red pepper pasta
- Creamy vegan lasagna soup
- Pumpkin pasta bake
If you try this easy spinach pasta sauce recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan—I love seeing them.
Spinach Pasta Sauce
- 3 oz (90 g) fresh spinach
- 1 handful of fresh basil
- 1 cup (240 ml) light coconut milk (canned) (or any other dairy-free milk)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ⅓-½ tsp salt (or to taste)
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- You can watch the short video for visual instructions.Blend all ingredients in a blender until completely smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring regularly.
- Let it simmer for 1-2 minutes and stir frequently.
- Serve with cooked pasta (or grains/potatoes) and enjoy.
- Check the blog post for substitutes, tips, storing instructions, and step-by-step photos.
- The recipe serves two. Nutrition facts are for one serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
If you are using Pinterest, feel free to pin the following photo:
So delicious and easy. I just love your recipes. I also find that my kids will eat anything that you share here 🙂 I made this today and mixed with noodles for my kids – calling it Green Machine Pasta – and they loved it. Thank you!
Aww, this is amazing! Makes me so happy, Keeley. 🙂