Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta has a fantastic spinach-artichoke sauce, along with sun-dried tomatoes, white beans, and toasted pine nuts.
There’s nothing more comforting than a creamy pasta dish. And how about this Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta featuring a sauce that tastes like your favorite spinach-artichoke dip? ? Once you learn how to make it, you can toss it with pasta and then change up the other ingredients. Use fresh cherry tomatoes instead of sun-dried, or replace with roasted peppers. Toss in artichoke hearts and double down on that artichoke flavor. Substitute chickpeas for the white beans. Get creative, and you can make this dish again and again with whatever you have on-hand.
The star of this recipe is that spinach-artichoke cream sauce. The idea to cook the artichokes in cream and then blend originally came to me from this Food and Wine recipe from 2007, which is also quite delicious. But my recipe uses canned (or frozen) artichoke bottoms, which are much easier to find than jarred oil-packed artichoke bottoms. And, I added spinach to give the sauce even more flavor and nutritional value. Sun-dried tomatoes add tanginess, white beans add protein, and pine nuts add crunch! Best of all, you can have almost all of these ingredients waiting in your pantry or freezer for when you feel the need for a comforting dish that feels like your favorite Italian restaurant.
How Do You Make Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta?
Begin by toasting ⅓ cup pine nuts over medium heat in a small skillet, until lightly browned. This should take about 3 minutes—watch carefully because pine nuts go quickly from pale to burned.
Drain 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and chop into ½-inch pieces. Next, drain 1 can of artichoke bottoms and add to a small saucepan along with 13.5 ounces of heavy cream. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cream will thicken and artichoke bottoms will be tender.
Turn off the heat and blend cream sauce with an immersion blender until smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, wait until cream sauce cools to just warm, then pour into a blender to blend. Careful not to fill the blender more than ⅔ full to be safe, because blending hot liquids can cause hot steam to blow off the top of your blender.)
Stir in 2 teaspoons lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Then stir in 7 ounces of thawed frozen spinach.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 8 ounces of dried pasta, and cook for as long as your pasta package recommends. Turn off the heat, drain, and return cooked pasta to pan. Add half of the cream sauce, stir, and then add more sauce as you like. You may not use the whole amount, depending on how saucy you like your pasta. Save extra for another meal later in the week, or for heating up leftovers. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and 1 can of drained and rinsed white beans. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts to serve. Sprinkling with grated parmesan cheese wouldn't hurt either!
Tips for Making Artichoke Cream Sauce
As I mentioned above, the cream sauce is the key to this recipe! Yes, you are using a lot of heavy cream. But this recipe serves at least four people, often with extra sauce left over, and frankly you should treat yourself every now and then. So, no, you can’t replace it with milk unfortunately—it just won’t thicken and give you that great creamy texture.
Regarding the artichokes, I do highly recommend you look for artichoke bottoms rather than hearts. Yes, artichoke hearts are more common, but they don’t blend nearly as nicely as the bottoms do. Go ahead and try it if you insist, but I think you’ll prefer the texture of the cream sauce with the artichoke bottoms. If you can’t find them in a can, you can often find them frozen. In addition, stay away from marinated artichokes for this recipe—they have a flavor that competes with the rest of the ingredients in the sauce.
Are Artichoke Bottoms the Same as Artichoke Hearts?
Not exactly. Artichoke hearts contain some of the tender artichoke leaves, along with the bottom of the artichoke. Artichoke bottoms are only the bottom section (the best part!), with no leaves attached. The hearts are delicious on their own, or tossed with pasta, or chopped up in artichoke dip—however, when you try to blend them, you sometimes end up with a stringy consistency. See above for how the difference affects the sauce.
Can You Freeze Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta?
Because of the creamy sauce in this dish, I would not recommend freezing it. Cream tends to break when frozen and then defrosted, so the texture of your reheated dish may be a bit unappealing.
How Long Will This Dish Last in the Fridge?
If you have leftovers, you can either package the pasta and any extra sauce separately, or together. The pasta will last 3-4 days in the fridge. The sauce will last at least a couple of days, but the color of the spinach will fade a bit, making the sauce look a little dingy. It will still taste good, and you won’t notice if you stir it in with your leftover pasta when reheating. But you may prefer to just stir in the extra sauce before you refrigerate the leftover pasta.
Can You Make this Recipe Ahead of Time?
This dish is not that well suited for long-term make-ahead. You can make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. However, the color of the spinach will become less and less vibrant as it sits in the fridge. I would recommend making the sauce no more than a few hours in advance if possible. Or, make the sauce up to a few days in advance, but wait to add the spinach until you are ready to make the dish. You can also toast the pine nuts in advance and prep the vegetables by draining and chopping as necessary. This is definitely a great recipe to make ahead for a dinner party, since you can prep so many of the ingredients in advance.
Sides for Creamy Pasta Recipes
As for what to serve with this artichoke pasta dish, a simple green salad is a perfect fit, perhaps with this Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing or Meyer Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette. I’d also recommend a simple roasted green vegetable to go alongside, or some fancier salads, such as the following:
- Roasted Broccoli and Carrots
- Pear Gorgonzola Salad with Glazed Walnuts
- Roasted Broccoli Rabe
- Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Miso Dressing
- Roasted Romanesco Broccoli
- Kale Salad with Cranberries
- Green Bean Salad with Baked Goat Cheese
Other Vegetarian Recipes from Vanilla Bean Cuisine
Are you looking for other vegetarian recipes? You might enjoy trying one of these—all are vegetarian, and some totally vegan.
- Tofu Fried Rice
- Vegan Buddha Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing
- Red Lentil Bolognese
- Quiche Florentine
- Corn Tortilla Quesadillas with Black Beans and Caramelized Onions
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Vegan Chickpea Curry with Spinach
- ⅓ c. (45g) pine nuts
- 1 cup (200g) packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 can (400g) artichoke bottoms (not marinated)
- 13.5 oz (400ml) heavy cream
- 2 t. lemon juice
- ¾ t. kosher salt
- ¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
- 7 oz (200g) frozen spinach, thawed
- 8 oz (250g) dried pasta of any kind
- 1 can (400g) white beans, drained and rinsed
- Begin by toasting pine nuts over medium heat in a small skillet, until lightly browned. This should take about 3 minutes—watch carefully because pine nuts go quickly from pale to burned.
- Drain sun-dried tomatoes and chop into ½-inch pieces.
- Drain artichoke bottoms and add to a small saucepan along with the heavy cream.
- Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cream will thicken and artichoke bottoms will be tender. Turn off the heat and blend cream sauce with an immersion blender until smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, wait until cream sauce cools to just warm, then pour into a blender to blend. Careful not to fill the blender more than ⅔ full to be safe, because blending hot liquids can cause hot steam to blow off the top of your blender.)
- Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Stir in spinach.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook for as long as your pasta package recommends. When pasta has finished cooking, drain and return to pan.
- Add half of the cream sauce, stir, and then add more sauce as you like. You may not use the whole amount, depending on how saucy you like your pasta. Save extra for another meal later in the week, or for heating up leftovers.
- Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and white beans.
- Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts to serve.
You can also use frozen artichoke bottoms for this dish. Thaw before adding to saucepan, and pat dry.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 882Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 912mgCarbohydrates: 106gFiber: 15gSugar: 11gProtein: 30g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.