Spinach Pesto Penne*

I was lucky enough to get to spend this past weekend with my family. I know when most people say that it is dripping with sarcasm…but despite my usual snark, I actually mean that. Saturday night I took my baby sister to see Lady Gaga to celebrate her 16th birthday. Then I got to spend Sunday and Monday relaxing and hanging out with my Mama…which is rare since she tends to work a lot of weekends. Sunday morning Jorge had to fly out to Boston for work, so we all got up and had a family breakfast before he had to head to the airport. We had biscuits & gravy, eggs, and bacon. It was heaven. I haven’t had a breakfast that good in a long time! Then later that afternoon, we followed it up with a little BBQ get together where we pigged out on beer and chips & dip. Even Brody was too full to move!

So after such a jean tightening delicious weekend, I knew a healthy dinner would be the next smartest move. Last week I promised you would see a lot of upcoming veggie-full recipes, and I am here to fulfill that promise. This Spinach Pesto Penne is loaded with delicious Spring time vegetables that are guaranteed to satisfy any belly! It is a vegetarian dish, but would also be delicious with some grilled chicken breasts on top. I served it on a bed of extra Spinach leaves, to add even more protein, and really liked the crunch they added. The best part about this dish? It honestly only took 15 minutes to toss together…which makes it the perfect week night meal at my house!


Spinach Pesto Penne

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 15 minutes


1 pound whole wheat penne
3 garlic cloves
2 oz goat cheese
1 oz fat free cream cheese
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil
8 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons freshly grated Asagio


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, basil, and half of the spinach leaves. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set the cheese and spinach mixture aside.

Meanwhile, place the cherry tomatoes and the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl. Drain the pasta. Spoon the pasta atop the spinach leaves in the bowl. Scrape the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Asagio cheese over and serve.

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis originally seen on For The Love

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21 Responses to “Spinach Pesto Penne”

  1. 1

    Amy's Cooking Adventures — April 18, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

    Yummy! It looks so springy and delicious!

  2. 2

    elle marie — April 18, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

    Whoever said pasta isn’t healthy is a-la-stupid! I think anything in moderation can be healthy.. there are exceptions of course. This looks so appealing, I just had pasta for lunch, so I’ll be keeping things light for dinner, but …. OMG tres delish!

  3. 3

    notyet100 — April 19, 2011 @ 2:18 am

    umm luv the ingredients,

  4. 4

    Annalisa Bova — April 19, 2011 @ 6:55 am

    i agree does look very springy!

    haha i rarely ever get to spend time with my family either but when i do i tend to enjoy it a lot!!!

  5. 5

    Rachel — April 19, 2011 @ 6:57 am

    This sounds delicious, and looks amazing! I love all the color!

  6. 6

    Christi @ Love From The Oven — April 19, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    This looks delish! I a huge pesto fan, and I love the idea of pesto pasta on a bed of spinach.

  7. 7

    Maria — April 19, 2011 @ 9:39 am

    Love the new layout! It’s been a while.
    Pesto usually seems very fattening but I like how you substituted some the ingredients (olive oil) to make it healthier.

  8. 8

    Ari's simple cake recipes — April 19, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    wow, it looks so fresh .. I could eat to plates

  9. 9

    Chiara — April 20, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    I love this recipe… and I happen to have lots of veggies in the fridge right now, so I’ll make some variation of it that includes asparagus (don’t want them to go to waste!)

  10. 10

    Nelly Rodriguez — April 20, 2011 @ 1:51 am

    interesting the raw spinach on the bottom but totally imagine it does add an extra dimension to the dish! :) yei for veggies!

  11. 11

    Anticipation | The Denver Diver — April 25, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

    […] Cooking spinach pesto penne and orzo stuffed bell peppers using recipes from The Novice Chef. Yum! via thenovicechefblog.com […]

  12. 12

    » Making Your Mother’s Day Keep It Sweet — May 1, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

    […] Spinach Pesto Penne by The Novice Chef […]

  13. 13

    Pesto Penne « Oh Gnome! — July 25, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

    […] got the recipe from The Novice Chef, which is one of my new favorite […]

  14. 14

    Penne Party « Oh Gnome! — July 26, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

    […] dinner party, I decided to perfect my “pen“ from last month.  Again, it’s from The Novice Chef. Substituting ricotta for goat cheese and splashing in tons of salt was a little sketchy. Last […]

  15. 15

    Molly — July 26, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    Hi, Jessica! This is truly a great dish, and I feel good about eating it! This will definitely be added to my list of regular meals :)
    I await more veggie-full dishes!

  16. 16

    Kari — March 5, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

    I love Giada and I loved this recipe! We add toasted pine nuts to ours. I know it ups the fat a little, but it is worth every bite!

  17. 17

    Sunny — March 16, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

    Holy cow is this stuff good! Made it once and fell in love…then made it again…and making it again tomorrow night! It truly tastes like it’s “bad” for you! LOVE it!! 😀

  18. 18

    Melissa — May 17, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    I made this last night, added sauteed squash and zucchini to the mix, tossed and it was fabulous!!! Such a beautiful dish packed with flavor! Will definitely make this several times this summer!

  19. 19

    Rebecca — June 10, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    Question: For those of us who really don’t like goat cheese, is there a substitution??


  20. 20

    Transportation Services Chicago — June 25, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    I am always looking for recipes that include the bite of goat cheese in them and some veggies makes me feel less guilty about a pasta dinner!!! Delish!

  21. 21

    Menu Plan Monday 24-09-12 | Real Fit Moms — September 23, 2012 @ 5:33 am

    […] – From The Novice Chef – Spinach Pesto served on grilled chicken with baked sweet potato and green […]

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