We eat a lot of meat. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, we eat it. There is no discrimination in this household. With my dislike of fish, seafood, and the majority of vegetarian meat substitutes we have been at a loss for ideas for meatless meals that will still taste delicious and keep us full throughout the night. That left us with mainly pasta heavy options (aka carb loading, aka weight gain inducing) like this one. Unlike our usual boring meatless spaghetti nights, this one-pan dish felt straight from the streets of Italy with the addition of tomatoes, spinach, and creamy flavors.
Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta (via):
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 lb penne pasta
1/2 of a 9 ounce bag fresh spinach
(for step by step photos check out Budget Bytes here)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.
Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the Parmesan and whisk until melted in again. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.