My creamy green pasta sauce is an easy way to add a serving of veggies to any pasta dish. Super healthy, delicious, and family friendly!
My whole family loves pasta in all forms. In the summer it's pasta salads, but once it gets colder we all gravitate towards a warm, comforting recipe like a spinach sausage pasta or spaghetti and meatballs.
Pasta gets a lot of hate from diet culture, but as a dietitian I think it's a perfectly acceptable (and delicious) food. It's a good source of carbohydrates and a base for other nutrient dense foods like veggies and lean proteins.
I also understand that sometimes you just want pasta and sauce. So on days like that, I go for pasta in green sauce. It's creamy, a little cheesy, and loaded with veggies. Plus, who doesn't want a green pasta sauce with such a vibrant hue?
Why This Recipe Is Dietitian Approved
- Packed with veggies. There are over 4 cups of veggies in this sauce, so it's super nutrient-dense. I love it because it's a creamy broccoli pasta, but you'd never guess there's a full head of broccoli!
- Perfect for picky eaters. I’ve never been a huge promoter of hiding veggies (I’d rather help you find ways to fall in love with them) BUT sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get more nutrients into picky eater's diets. If you're a parent working on exposing your picky eaters to new foods, try showing them what goes into the sauce! It still counts as an exposure, even if it doesn't look like a piece of broccoli.
- Quick and simple. All you need is a blender for an easy 30 minute meal.
- Pasta of choice
- Parmesan cheese
- Frozen spinach
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Fresh basil
- Cottage cheese
- Red pepper flakes
Cook pasta. Fill a large pot with water and a large pint of salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Steam broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil, season with salt and add broccoli florets. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes (until broccoli is soft enough to easily pierced with a fork). Strain the broccoli, reserving ¾ cup of liquid to use in the sauce.
Blend: Add steamed broccoli, reserved broccoli liquid, garlic, milk, parmesan cheese, spinach, lemon juice, salt, basil and cottage cheese to a large blender or food processor.
Blend until smooth and creamy.
Pour sauce over prepared pasta, adjust seasonings as desired, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and extra parm and enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
To make gluten-free: Use a gluten-free pasta of choice.
To make dairy-free: I have not tested a dairy-free version of this recipe. You should be able to substitute the cottage cheese for a dairy-free ricotta option and use nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan, however I cannot guarantee you will yield the same results.
To make nut-free: This recipe is naturally nut-free.
Missing an ingredient? Try these:
- Frozen spinach: Can be swapped for fresh spinach. For this option, I recommend adding 2 cups of fresh spinach directly into the blender with the other ingredients.
- Frozen broccoli: Can be swapped for fresh broccoli. Just allow the broccoli to thaw overnight or in the microwave. Once thawed, the broccoli should be soft enough to use in the soft without needing to boil it so you can add it directly into the blender, using ¾ cup of reserved pasta water instead.
This green pasta sauce will store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
To freeze, portion and place in airtight containers. Place in the fridge to thaw overnight and heat in the microwave or on the stove when you are ready to eat.
I recommend using a high powered blender if you have one available to you. I have made this recipe in both a food processor and high powered blender, and find the blender creates the creamiest variation of this sauce.
Whenever I create sauces in a blender, add the liquid ingredients first and layer any non liquid ingredients on top to help blend.
Frequently Asked Questions
I always say any vegetables are better than no vegetables! This sauce is packed with broccoli and spinach, however if you’re craving more veggies just add some extra broccoli as a side!
Yes! Since this sauce stays fresh for up to 5 days this is a great make ahead pasta dish.
There's already a little protein in the cottage cheese, however you can add another protein like edamame or chicken breast on the side. You can also use a higher protein pasta like a chickpea pasta.
More Healthy Pasta Recipes
Do you love pasta as much as me? Try these recipes next:
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you decide to make this green pasta sauce, don't forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram- @nourishedbynic or leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it!
Healthy Green Pasta Sauce
- 425 g pasta of choice
- 2 small broccoli crowns 500g, chopped into florets
- ¾ cup reserved broccoli cooking liquid
- 2-3 cloves garlic pressed
- ½ cup milk
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 cup frozen spinach thawed and drained
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh Parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta: Fill a large pot with water and a large pint of salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Steam broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil, season with salt and add broccoli florets. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes (until broccoli is soft enough to easily pierced with a fork). Strain the broccoli, reserving ¾ cup of liquid to use in the sauce.
- Blend: Add steamed broccoli, reserved broccoli liquid, garlic, milk, parmesan cheese, spinach, lemon juice, salt, basil and cottage cheese to a large blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour sauce over prepared pasta, adjust seasonings as desired, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and extra parm and enjoy!