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Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach

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Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach

Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach

Jessica Braider
My family loves this combination so much that we could eat it every week (and sometimes do!), but you can always remove some of the noodles before tossing them with the pesto, and toss them instead with butter and Parmesan cheese for picky eaters.
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 cups


  • 1 clove garlic minced, about 1/2 tsp.
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated pesto store-bought or homemade (see recipe below)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. capers drained
  • 16 oz. penne noodles (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed)
  • 12 - 18 oz. baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese or more to taste


  • Boil the water for the pasta in a large stockpot.
  • Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the garlic, pesto, oil and capers.
  • Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook them until they are about 1 minute short of being done. Add the spinach to the boiling water with the pasta and cook it for about 1 minute.
  • Drain the pasta and spinach briefly and toss it with the ingredients in the serving bowl. Season it with salt and pepper and top it with the Parmesan cheese.

Homemade Pesto Recipe:

  • To make fresh pesto, combine 2 cups (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 Tbsp. pine nuts, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and the juice of 1/2 lemon (optional) in a blender or food processor. Blend until coarsely chopped. You can use extra pesto as a spread for crackers, toss it with steamed green beans, or freeze it for a future use.


Do Ahead or Delegate: Peel the garlic, combine the garlic, pesto, oil and capers, cook the pasta and spinach and store tossed with a little oil to prevent sticking, shred the cheese if necessary and refrigerate.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Use extra garlic and serve it with crushed red pepper flakes.
Tip:  To freeze leftover pesto, spoon it into ice cube trays and, after it freezes, remove from the tray and store in a resealable bag in the freezer.  You can take them out as needed and add them to pasta recipes for a flavor boost.
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values):Calories 330, Total Fat: 11g, 17%; Saturated Fat: 3g, 13%; Cholesterol: 5mg, 2%; Sodium: 160mg, 7%; Total Carbohydrate: 45g, 15%; Dietary Fiber: 3g, 12%; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 11g
Keyword 30 Minutes (or less) Meals, All, Dinner, Fall, Gluten-Free, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Low Fat, Low Sodium, Main Dish, No Added Sugar, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian, Winter
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