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Green Pasta Sauce

This stunning, vibrant green pasta sauce is a basil cream sauce that is the perfect addition to perfectly cooked, al dente pasta! Simple ingredients and lots of spinach make up this healthy pasta sauce!


Remember last year when I said I was unlikely to volunteer for the kids’ variety show another year? Here we are and I’m there for it. Kind of, anyway. I was 33 minutes late to the hour-long practice and for this reason, among plenty of others, I should never be in charge of anything along the lines of a variety show. I’m a helper and a sub-par, untimely one at that. But in fairness to me, it’s not my fault that patient care can completely derail my day and any timelines in place, which is exactly what happened today.

Oh well, the opening act looks amazing after practice #1 and I’m glad that Shea is participating this year in both the opening act AND an tumbling routine with one of her friends. It’ll be fun and I’m sure after another 4 evenings spent in rehearsals between now and this time next week, I’ll be glad when it’s over. That will take us right into soccer season, just about, and the name of the game will remain: QUICK AND EASY DINNERS! This green pasta sauce recipe fits the bill in every way – you’re welcome!


  • Kid-Friendly: This creamy green sauce is ultimate kid food with its unique and playful, vibrant green color! Hulk pasta!
  • Sneaky Veggies: Packing in TONS of spinach, basil, zucchini, shallots, and garlic, this sauce is rich in veggies in one ultra-sneaky way!
  • Weeknight Warriors: On the table in under 20 minutes, this green spinach pasta sauce is an easy recipe for the busiest of weeknights!


  • Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is a great choice, as is avocado oil. Unsalted better can also be used as a substitute.
  • Shallots: Swap in 1/4 cup of diced yellow or white onion, if preferred, or omit altogether.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is ideal – use more, less, or none, as you prefer. Feel free to use jarred minced garlic or substitute in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Zucchini: Yellow squash can be used as an alternative. You can also use more or less zucchini. 
  • Spinach: Raw baby spinach has a very neutral, mild flavor whereas other leafy greens can be a bit bitter and not quite as vibrant of a green. 
  • Basil: Fresh basil gives this sauce a creamy pesto flavor, however fresh parsley can be used in place of or in addition to the basil. Don’t skimp on the basil, however, as it gives off so much flavor.
  • Lemon: Use more, less, or none, as you prefer! For an extra lemony flavor, add a bit of lemon juice, starting with 1 tablespoon and adding more to taste. You can also give a squeeze of lemon over the top!
  • Mascarpone: Feel free to swap in cream cheese, Crème Fraîche, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, or whole milk plain Greek yogurt as a substitute.
  • Milk: I love whole milk for the adequate fat to create a smooth, creamy sauce without the added saturated fat of half and half or whipping cream, however you may certainly use either. Unsweetened soy milk or coconut milk would work well, too. You can also reduce the milk or add half vegetable broth or vegetable stock for a lighter option. 
  • Salt: Trust me when I say, the salt is clutch for making the flavor of fresh herbs and lemon zest POP! You can use more, less, or a salt substitute.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days
  • You can make the sauce ahead of time, if helpful, and can be warmed and added to hot pasta later.
  • This pasta dish can be served as a main dish or side dish!
  • If you prefer a hint of heat, you can add crushed red pepper flakes – start with a pinch or up to 1/4 teaspoon to start and add more, to taste.


Why do you recommend fresh spinach versus frozen or canned?

​Frozen and canned spinach have a much more concentrated flavor that can take away from the basil flavor that makes this recipe so good! Fresh is best!

Are nutrients lost when cooking spinach?

If you boil spinach, nutrients such as water-soluble vitamins are lost through the water being used to cook with. However, sauteing spinach is a great way to maintain the nutritional merits of spinach.

What would you serve with this meal?

Skewered and grilled shrimp, grilled chicken breasts, or pearled mozzarella would add extra protein and be great additions to pair with this meal!

What pasta shape did you use?

Pictured is campanelle pasta, however any type of short pasta with a curled shape to help trap in lots of sauce is a great option. There’s really no going wrong and you pasta of choice will work great!


  • The calcium and iron in spinach are best absorbed when cooked due to the breakdown of oxalic acid
  • Vegetarian and can be made into a vegan sauce by omitting the mascarpone and using a dairy-free milk 
  • A creamy pasta sauce with nearly 2 grams of fiber – love it!

Green Pasta Sauce

Green Pasta Sauce

Yield: makes approx. 3 cups sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This stunning, vibrant green pasta sauce is a basil cream sauce that is the perfect addition to perfectly cooked, al dente pasta!


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 6 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 oz mascarpone
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the zucchini, stir, and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. In handfuls between stirs, add the spinach. It will quickly cook down into a vibrant green color.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring often.
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree smooth, or alternatively, transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Serve hot after tossing with your favorite shape of cooked pasta.
Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 146Total Fat: 13.3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 418mgCarbohydrates: 6.0gFiber: 1.8gSugar: 3.2gProtein: 4.3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Looking for more vegetarian recipe ideas? So much to enjoy!

Be well,

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