Creamy Spinach Butternut Pasta. This dish is incredibly creamy and delicious and is ready for serving in 30 minutes, whether you are cooking with an Instant Pot, in the oven or on the stove top. Packed with nutrition and flavor from spinach, butternut, leeks and spices, the smooth creaminess comes from cream cheese, nutritional yeast and a little kick from my favorite spice-- red pepper flakes. Prepare with chicken or without. Same great creamy goodness.
Most of the recipes on this blog are vegan or vegetarian, and all are gluten free and dairy free. I don't know about your family, but we have some that are gluten free, some that are diary free, some that eat meat, but not red meat, and some that are pescatarian. Then, there are those that eat everything.
All of those factors make it hard to make meals that can accommodate all tastes. I find that the best thing to do is to make a recipe gluten free, diary free and vegetarian, and allow for protein additions according to personal preferences. The most important goal that I have in creating any recipe is to use fresh, preservative free, plant based ingredients whenever possible.
How To Make This Recipe Vegan?
All of the recipes on this site are gluten free, and dairy free, so no modifications are necessary to accommodate those diets. In the case of this recipe, the whole recipe is vegan, and the addition of chicken is the only ingredient that needs to be omitted to make this pasta dish vegan. It has the same great flavor and nutrition.
If you want some additional protein and still enjoy the dish vegan, you can add tofu instead of chicken. It is my intention to allow for the most flexibility in creating recipes so that you can get exactly what you need.
What Other Options Can I Use To Prepare This Dish?
I think we can agree on one thing--when you are ready to prepare a recipe, and you are missing one ingredient, it is so very frustrating. Yes, we have all been there. The good news is, that this pasta dish is so flexible, that it is very easy to substitute vegetables without sacrificing the flavor or nutritional value of the meal.
For example, instead of butternut squash, you can use sweet potatoes or any other kind of squash that you have on hand. For the spinach, you can substitute similar greens, like kale or collard greens. If you don't have leeks, you can use green onions.
The most important part of this recipe is the creamy sauce--the cream cheese, broth and spices are a great flavor combination. If you prefer, you can also use this creamy sauce on rice or noodles for a creative twist on this meal. I definitely believe that the star of every meal is usually the sauce!
My new favorite way to cook is to make recipes in the Instant Pot. Not only is does the food cook quicker, I personally feel like the flavor of any food is much more intense when it cooks on high pressure. If you don't have an Instant Pot, I also include directions to prepare this meal in a pan on the stove top.
Steps For Making Creamy Spinach Butternut Pasta
Creamy Spinach Butternut Pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes If you have kids, or don't want it with a kick, use only ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs Vegan/vegetarian option: omit chicken, use 14 oz extra firm tofu
- 2 cups fresh butternut squash, cubed
- ½ cup sliced leeks
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- ½ cup whipped cream cheese for dairy free or vegan, use vegan creamed cheese
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp fresh thyme If using dried thyme, add ½ tsp instead of 1 tsp
- 2 cups dry brown rice pasta, which is gluten free cook according to package directions
- For Instant Pot: Cut chicken thighs into bite size pieces.
Set Instant Pot to saute, and add olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic and chicken thighs. Saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add all remaining ingredients, except pasta and stir. Set Instant Pot to pressure cook for 20 minutes. When cooking is complete, QR, quick release pressure.
- Stir in cooked brown rice pasta. Serve topped with fresh thyme.
- For stove top:Cut chicken thighs into bite size pieces. Add olive oil, chicken and spices to large pan.Saute for 8 minutes, on medium heat, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cooked pasta and stir. Top with fresh thyme.
- For oven:Add all ingredients and cooked pasta to large bowl and mix well. Pour into oiled 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve with fresh thyme.