A quick Spinach and Cheese Pasta Salad that’s easy to prepare and delicious. Simply cook the pasta and toss it with spinach, cheese, and a simple dressing. How easy is that?
This dish was inspired by my father-in-law who loved a spinach and cheese pasta salad purchased from the supermarket. It was a simple pasta salad with – you guessed it – spinach and cheese. There was nothing else to it other than a simple dressing. It’s no longer offered so I made it myself because I knew it would make him happy – and it did.
As with all pasta salads, the pasta needs to be cooked correctly. Check out my post on how to cook pasta for the how to. As for which type of pasta, choose what you like. I use shells, farfalle, or spiral shaped.
I use frozen chopped spinach which makes this one of the simplest pasta salads to make. When using frozen, buy it in the bag and not the box. The bag is easier to defrost because it’s loose and separates easily. They usually come in 16 ounce bags and half a bag is all you need for this recipe. I buy organic chopped frozen spinach at Trader Joe’s. If you buy a 10 ounce bag, use all of it.
Of course you could use fresh baby spinach and chop it up yourself. I have and it comes out just fine. The spinach may have a little bit of a chew because it’s fresh. Basically, frozen is softer and soft is good here because it mixes well with the simple dressing.
This spinach pasta salad is perfect when you want a great simple side or light meal. Great for cookouts because it’s mayo free. The fresh garlic adds tons of flavor and blends well with the oil and vinegar. Choose between black or crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat.
As for the cheese, use fresh chopped mozzarella, provolone, or feta cheese. Choose whatever makes you happy because that’s all that matters.
Try some of my other salads:
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Life is too short for mediocre food.
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- Cook the pasta for 1 minute over what the package suggests for al dente. If it says to cook 8 - 9 minutes, cook it for 9. Otherwise, add 1 minute to the lowest number listed on package. Since this pasta salad is served at room temp or cold, you need to cook it just past al dente or it will be too chewy.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the frozen spinach and break it up so that it's loose, then toss to coat. The spinach will start to thaw when mixed with dressing and should be fine by the time the pasta is done. When the pasta is added, it should be completely thawed.
- Drain and rinse pasta with cold water to stop cooking. Combine with spinach mixture and and cheese. Toss until combined. Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.