If there is one thing I always make sure my pantry is stocked with it’s canned tomatoes. I use them in everything ( see exhibit A, B, C, D) and they are especially helpful in getting dinner ready and on the table in minimal time. This creamy spinach and tomato spaghetti is a family favorite of ours. It comes together super quickly and is great on it’s own or along side a grilled chicken breast or sliced Italian sausage.
I’m usually all about a funny side story, but my mind is totally drawing a blank right now. Is this what writer’s block is? Good grief, I don’t even know who I am anymore. Guess we’ll just go straight to the recipe and hope for a better write-up with my next post. Pasta cures all, right? At least that’s what my Italian grandmother would say if I had one. An Italian one, that is. I do have a grandma.
We start the sauce by building our first layer of flavor- caramelized onions. These will give the sauce some much needed sweetness and that tastes-like-its-been-simmering-for-hours effect.
Once your onions have cooked down and caramelized in a couple tablespoons of olive oil with some garlic cloves, toss in dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar. Next up is adding the chicken broth and the tomatoes; you’ll need some canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. If you’re like me you hate opening up a whole can of tomato of paste for only a few tablespoons. So next time you’re at the store look for tomato paste in a toothpaste-like squeeze tube. I’ve noticed quite a few store have started carrying them and they are prefect for recipes like these; squeeze out what you need and put the rest in the fridge for next time! Genius!
Bring the sauce to a simmer, add the cream cheese to the sauce in chunks and stir until the cream cheese has melted into the sauce. I’m not going to lie- it takes a little bit of work to get the cream cheese to mix in completely but if you keep at it, I promise it will. This last time I used my non-stick skillet so I couldn’t use a whisk and I was able to get it combined in about 5 minutes. If I had a silicone whisk it would have gone MUCH faster. A Note about types of cream cheese: some low-fat and all fat-free cream cheeses have stabilizers that make them extremely hard to combine with hot liquids and usually curdle. Substitute low-fat options at your own risk 🙂
Once your sauce has come together or even before, throw a pound of spaghetti into a pot and cook until al dente. Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve a cup of the hot pasta water and set aside.
Add 4 cups of fresh baby spinach to the sauce, stir until wilted and remove from the heat.
Once your pasta has been drained add it directly to the sauce, adding a little bit of the pasta water to loosen it up a bit if needed. Top with grated parmesan cheese and get ready for a plate of pasta goodness.
Creamy Spinach and Tomato Spaghetti
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 can 14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
- 1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 C chicken broth
- 4 oz full-fat cream cheese low-fat and fat-free have the tendency to curdle
- 4 C fresh baby spinach
- 1 lb dry spaghetti
In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onions and garlic until the onions are soft, lightly browned and sweet.
Add sugar, oregano, red pepper, and salt to the onions and stir. Add tomatoes, sauce, paste, and chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and stir into the sauce. Continue to stir until the cream cheese has completely melted into the sauce- about 5 minutes.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions and reserve 1 C of the hot pasta water before draining. Set aside.
Add spinach to the sauce and stir until wilted. Remove from heat and transfer the cooked spaghetti into the sauce. Toss until coated, adding in a little bit of the pasta water to loosen it up if needed.
Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.