Creamy Lemon Pasta with Spinach & Tomatoes

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Let’s be honest. Even if you love to cook, there’s a good chance that you’ve shaken out a box of Stovetop stuffing or set a pot of minute-rice to simmer and served them as side dishes. I sure have, because sometimes there’s no time for anything more complicated than that. But, here’s a secret: Homemade side dishes don’t have to be complicated.

This delicious dish is full of plump pasta, juicy tomatoes and sweet spinach, tossed with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a white sauce made from a little olive oil, sauteed garlic, heavy cream, and lemon zest and juice. Served alongside grilled chicken breasts, it made for a light but mouthwatering meal, but this pasta can also be served on its own, or with a salad and garlic bread. You can also swap the pasta for whatever else is in your cabinet, such as farfalle, fusili, rigatoni or penne. Or, you could even add some cut-up cooked chicken or shrimp and toss it together for a whole meal in one pot!

However you dress up this simple dish, it’s sure to be delicious. I know you’ll just love the bright lemon flavor combined with the pasta, creamy Parmesan and tender, colorful summer produce as much as me and my husband did.

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Spinach & Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 lemons zested and juice reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 pound rotini pasta
  • 3 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes halved

Instructions

  • Set a large pot of water to boil.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the cream, the lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
  • Meanwhile, add some salt to the boiling water and add the pasta; cook according to the directions on the package, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain the pasta and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta.
  • Take the pot off heat and add the spinach, Parmesan, and tomatoes. Toss well until the spinach has wilted. Season to taste, and serve hot.
  • Enjoy!

Join the Conversation

  1. Brownieville Girl says:

    I think this would make a lovely lunch dish …. will be trying it soon!

  2. Chicago Cuisine Critique says:

    This sounds & looks delicious! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. This is my kind of meal: pasta, fresh ingredients and can be used as a main or side. Wish I had a serving for lunch right now. Thank you for the inspiration…this may be dinner tonight!

  4. Test

  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Kiasa. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out! Funny you mentioned serving it with salmon, as my aunt made it and served it with salmon this weekend – They were really good together, and the cream sauce was delicious when mixed in with the salmon as well. You’ll love that combo!

  6. Just found this recipe (and your blog) when I was searching for what to make for dinner last night. Googled: spinach, cream, lemon, pasta; because it was what I had on hand. We had some heirloom tomatoes we put on the side. LOVED IT! My picky husband too. Next time I will make it with cherry tomatoes mixed in and serve it with salmon. THANKS!!!

  7. Please excuse me for being a million posts behind in commenting, lol! Regardless…this sounds terrific. Really refreshing!

  8. Made this last night for dinner, it was scrumptious! Definitely something I’ll be adding to our dinner rotation. I made some changes to accommodate all of veggies coming out of my garden, I swapped zucchini for the spinach and added some fresh parsley and thyme. Amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Jenn's Food Journey says:

    Oh this looks sooooo good! Though I haven’t really met a pasta dish I didn’t like!! I can’t wait to try this one!

  10. Yum, yum, yum. This reminds me the chicken florentine pasta salad I have on my blog, but it’s a main dish and used boiled chicken. I love light, fresh salads in the summer!

  11. Great idea! I think I may try that next time.

  12. This looks incredible! I can’t wait to try it. Do you think there’s any way I could cut down on the amount of cream, or would change the end result too much? This is on my menu for next week!

  13. Thanks for letting me know, Annalise! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and I love your substitution of zucchini and addition of parsley and thyme. Looking back, I think basil would have also worked. We reheated our leftovers of this for dinner last night and added some shrimp sauteed in garlic and butter… So, just in case you have A LOT of leftovers, which we did, there’s an idea!

  14. Hi Megan,

    I wouldn’t recommend adding less cream, because it needs to absorb into the pasta, so the amount may seem like a lot, but the white sauce becomes thick and is just the right amount when you add it to the pasta.

    Thanks for visiting!

    Georgia

  15. Mmm, I love lemony pasta! I like things spicy…I think I’ll try adding a little bit of red pepper flakes!

  16. Looks great! I always find that the less I have to fuss with a side dish, the better it tastes. That’s especially true this time of year with all of the amazing produce available!

  17. Heidi's Recipes says:

    You are exactly right! Often I’m tempted to cook something from a box or even order take-out, but when I push through and pull off a simple homemade dish, I ‘m so grateful that I did. And often in less time than it would have taken to do my other less healthy choices.

  18. We just bought a carton of heirloom yellow grape tomatoes, and I’m sure they would be lovely in this light, summer dish. What a beautiful photograph and a simple yet delicious recipe!

  19. So wonderful! This looks like the kind of pasta I could eat all day! I love your recipe.

  20. Lemons and pasta has quickly become one of my favorite combinations. This will be great as a side to BBQ. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I finally got my Earth Day Giveaway up if you are interested.

  21. This looks so delicious!!

  22. Substitute 1/2 cup greek yogurt for the heavy cream to make it healthier!

  23. Can you eat this cold? It would make a nice side dish with grilled chicken or steak in the summer.

  24. Eat it however you like! It’s great cold.

  25. I just found this on pinterest and made it tonight. I know my husband isn’t a lemon fan, so I halved the amount of lemon. He absolutely LOVED it, and so did I. He actually had thirds, and he never does that. He just kept saying, “This is REALLY good!” Thanks so much for a great recipe!

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