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Creamy Spinach and Basil Penne

A creamy pasta dish with spinach, basil and some pesto for extra flavour. This is a quick and easy pasta dish that can be pulled together in the time it takes to cook pasta. Gluten-free and vegan.

Creamy Spinach and Basil Penne Recipe


It's pasta week!

Well actually that's not true, but it's going to feel like pasta week because this is my second pasta of the week and I still have another one planned. 

My first pasta dish this week was roasted vegetable pea pasta bake, but today I wanted something creamy. I wanted a creamy sauce but one that would be quick and easy too. 

Well, you know how I am.

This time you may see a wee bit of orange shining throw the sauce. That's the colour of the pasta. 

For tonight's meal I used Napolina's Red Lentil Penne which like the green pea pasta is also gluten-free.

Napolina Gluten-Free Pasta


I'm happy to say I don't have to eat gluten-free, but I know more and more people do, so I really wanted to try this pasta to see what it is like. 

I actually prefer this to the green pea pasta, but that's probably because I prefer penne to twists.

How do they make their pasta gluten free? Does it have lots of weird ingredients? 

No, no weird ingredients. 

The pasta is made with red lentil flour instead of standard flour and that is it!  

It contributes towards your five-a-day and it's a good source of protein and fibre. Oh and the pasta is organic too.

And what great colours!

Creamy Spinach and Basil Penne Recipe


So what's in this pasta? 

Not cream, even though it's creamy. 

No, I decided to use cream cheese. 

It's up to you which cream cheese you use. I would recommend Philadelphia if you eat dairy or Violife cream cheese if you don't. 

They both have the same texture and creamy mild flavour, which is perfect for this dish.


I cooked the spinach in the pasta water as the pasta cooked and added some fresh basil when the pasta was drained. 

Adding spinach to the pasta water is a great way to add extra veg in a fuss-free way. 

Less washing up too!

I mixed a little pesto in with the cream cheese and seasoned it with black pepper. It was just perfect and just what I wanted or in other words it hit the spot!


If you're anything like me, you like to make meals as easy as possible and use as few pans as you can. My tip is to throw vegetables in with the pasta to cook. Less pans and less stress.

I like to add spinach, peas, sweetcorn, broccoli or cauliflower to the cooking pasta, but you could add pretty much any veg. Just pop it in at the right time so it has long enough to cook. 

Creamy Spinach and Basil Penne Recipe

gluten-free recipe, gluten-free pasta. gluten-free pasta recipe, creamy pasta, vegan creamy pasta, spinach pasta, creamy pasta sauce
Italian, vegan, gluten-free
Yield: 3-4
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Creamy Spinach and Basil Penne

Creamy Spinach and Basil Penne

A creamy pasta with spinach, basil and some pesto for extra flavour. This is a quick and easy pasta dish that can be pulled together in the time it takes to cook pasta. Gluten-free and vegan.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 11 MinTotal time: 16 Min


  • 250g/ 8 oz gluten-free pasta (or your favourite pasta)
  • 50g/2 cups fresh spinach ( you can use frozen, a couple of frozen bundles will do)
  • 5 tbsp cream cheese (dairy or vegan)
  • 3 tbsp pesto (veggie or vegan)
  • a small handful of fresh basil, torn
  • a generous grinding of black pepper


  1. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Check the packet for instructions.
  2. Pop the spinach in the pasta water 2 or 3 minutes before the pasta has finished cooking. If you're using frozen spinach it will need a little longer to thaw in the water.
  3. Drain the pasta and spinach and mix in the cream cheese, the pesto and the basil.
  4. Season with lots of black pepper and serve immediately. 
  5. You can top with some freshly grated veggie or vegan parmesan. but I don't think it needs it.
  6. Enjoy!


You may use fresh or frozen spinach in this recipe. If you are using frozen, add it to the pasta water earlier in the cook time.

You may use gluten-free or standard pasta.

If you want to serve this as a pasta salad, drain the pasta and cool completely under running cold water before stirring in the sauce.

Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.



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Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. I love beautiful, elegant, easy pasta dishes like this for weeknights!

    1. Thanks, it was more quickly thrown together than elegant, but it was good.

  2. I think every week might be pasta week! Especially with a dish like this! Yum! I love this for dinner soon!

  3. Interesting - I've never heard of that pasta brand before (and I'm a gluten-free gal). Will have to keep my eyes peeled for it!

    1. They are the UK's top pasta brand. Really high quality products. I hope you find them.

  4. This looks delicious I've never come across red lentil pasta before but never met a lentil I didn t like and I eat so much pasta it would be fab for a change! Also...great tip about chucking in the vegetables with the pasta!

  5. This looks so delicious and comforting. Love the mix of pesto and dairy free cream cheese!

    1. That's our go-to vegan version. They are handy to have in the fridge.


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