Would you look at that? I made Christmas-colored pasta, completely on accident. I’m on a perpetual roasted broccoli and red bell pepper kick, you see, and got a hankering for some hearty pasta. Here, freshly roasted broccoli and bell pepper collide with lots of delicious sautéed spinach, my favorite whole wheat linguine and some balsamic vinegar. Toss all that together with some magical reserved pasta water for a light, silky sauce, and we end up with high-contrast Christmas pasta. I love it.
This spinach pasta recipe is highly adaptable. Feel free to change up the roasted vegetables—just use whatever you have around, cut to similar sizes and roasted until tender. Or, skip the roasted vegetables for a very simple but very flavorful and hearty spinach pasta. The recipe is easily made vegan and/or gluten free, and the leftovers are great, whether served chilled, at room temperature or warmed again.
My one request is that you serve this pasta with a great green side salad. It can be super simple with just fresh greens, your favorite dressing and a couple of add-ins. Just don’t skip it! DeLallo, the makers of my favorite 100% whole wheat pasta, offer a product called Salad Savors that combine a few complementary salad mix-ins in one easy-to-grab package. My fridge is full of them right now, so I have no excuse not to include a side salad with each meal. The more greens, the better, especially during the holidays!
I had a hard time choosing which Salad Savors to use with this pasta, but ended up grabbing my favorite (called Crisp), which includes sweet red dried apple, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and toasted almonds. I just tossed those ingredients with fresh arugula and a simple, homemade balsamic dressing. It was remarkably easy and delicious.
Here’s the great news: My friends at DeLallo are giving away one 5.5-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven ($299.95 retail value), in a color of your choice from Crate and Barrel! They graciously agreed to send off one of my favorite kitchen tools to one lucky Cookie and Kate reader. You can enter below—just be sure to submit your email address in the Rafflecopter field and follow the instructions (they’re easy), so we can keep this fair and square! You’ll get a couple more options for more entries once you do. Happy holidays!
- 1 large bunch of broccoli (about 1½ pounds), florets removed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch squares
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces DeLallo Whole Wheat Linguine or spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot bulb, sliced very thin (about ½ cup, sliced)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- Optional: 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese* (about ¾ cup, grated), plus extra for garnishing
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To prepare the roasted vegetables (optional, skip for a more simple spinach pasta): Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Transfer the sliced broccoli florets and bell pepper to the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until the vegetables are lightly coated in oil (add a little more olive oil if necessary). Sprinkle with salt, arrange the vegetables in an even layer and bake until the broccoli is tender and caramelized on the edges, tossing halfway, about 25 minutes.
- Once the vegetables are in the oven, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta just until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, carefully reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
- To prepare the balsamic spinach, in a large Dutch oven (my 5.5-quart Le Creuset is perfect here) or large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add the sliced shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. While stirring constantly, add several big handfuls of spinach at a time until they have wilted, then repeat until all of the spinach is in the pot. Once the spinach has reduced a bit but is still bright green in parts (this happens quickly!), pour in the balsamic vinegar and remove the pot from heat.
- In your Dutch oven or in a large serving bowl, combine the roasted vegetables and cooked pasta with the spinach mixture. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil and optional Parmesan. Drizzle in about ⅓ cup reserved pasta cooking water and gently toss to coat. Season to taste with additional salt (mine needed about ½ teaspoon more) and freshly ground black pepper. Divide into bowls and serve immediately, with extra grated Parmesan on top for bonus presentation points.
Make it vegan/dairy free: Use olive oil instead of butter and omit the Parmesan. This pasta is great without the Parmesan, but you could add a light sprinkle of nutritional yeast for some cheesy flavor, if you'd like. Another option for extra savory flavor would be to add about ⅓ cup freshly toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds.
*A note on Parmesan: I always get a few comments on recipes that include Parmesan (“It’s not vegetarian!”) but Whole Foods actually makes a great animal rennet-free Parmesan. There’s plenty of flavor in here without the Parmesan, if you’d rather leave it out.
Make it gluten free: Choose a good gluten-free pasta (DeLallo makes one!).
This post was created in partnership with DeLallo Foods and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!