15-minute cheesy pasta with chicken & spinach

THIS PASTA DISH IS A 3-BOWLER. At least it was for Phoebe, our 5-year-old.15 minute spinach pasta with chicken, foodlets

Okay, okay. I admit it. I also found myself eating at least another helping, standing next to the sink while I pretended to “clean the kitchen” after dinner. It’s just that kind of pasta dish. And there’s even better news: the recipe is so simple, and full of things that are likely already hanging out in your fridge, that you might just rely on this one all summer (and winter) long.

I love a quick dinner, and I’m guessing I’m not alone here, not just because it cuts down on the amount of time I have to listen to three small people begging for a banana while I’m juggling a hot pan and a baby, but because even a kid-friendly dinner as simple as this counts as a fresh cooked meal. That’s something that matters deeply to me, and also to Mark Bittman. Not bad company to be in. It’s also a one-pot meal if you don’t count the chicken. And by all means, if you can get your hands on the rotisserie sort that the good people at the grocery store cook ahead of time for you, do that immediately. (My favorite is from Costco.)

One more thing, we used frozen organic spinach because it’s easy to have on hand all year round but add or substitute anything that your family enjoys. That’s how you’ll get the maximum amount of green good stuff into the little guys, possibly three times over.

15-minute cheesy spinach & chicken pasta
Cook time
Total time
Usually I have whole-wheat pasta on hand but these days my pre-baby pantry supplies are dwindling so I only had regular. Delicious but not as nutritious. Also, we use half or three-quarters of a box for our family of 5 (including 3 small kids) and always have leftovers but use as much as you need and adjust the rest of the ingredients as you need to. It's very flexible.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • ½-3/4 box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup frozen organic chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade
  • 1 cup pasta cooking water, reserved
  • *Optional: juice of 1 lemon, extra Parmesan cheese
  1. Boil pasta according to instructions -- minus 2 minutes. Drain pasta in colander.
  2. Using the pasta pot combine wine, yogurt, cheese, spinach, salt and pepper. Heat for 1-2 minutes to reduce wine and melt cheese. Add pasta to pot plus chicken and basil then stir, adding reserved pasta water as needed.
  3. Optional: add freshly squeezed lemon or extra Parmesan cheese on top.

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  1. Lori says

    You did it again!! Chris has gotten a little tired of the easy pasta dish I make so regularly, so he was very excited to see this in the pan last night! I was super excited for another fast, healthy, delicious meal! Since I get home from work at 6:45, I’ve got to work fast to get dinner on the table for my tired crew. I was able to make the sauce and cut up the chicken in the morning. After work, I just boiled the noodles and cooked the chicken and we were good to go! Everyone enjoyed this dish and it’s now packed up for my lunch (and tagged for future dinners!). Thanks, Charity! Keep up all the great work, we appreciate it!

    • charityc says

      Oh, these are my favorite comments! I’m so glad that the recipe worked out for everyone in your group. And you are so brilliant to prep the chicken and sauce in the AM; I’m going to try more recipes with those kinds of 2-step techniques for busy families–because aren’t we all? 😉

    • charityc says

      Hello, Anuva! It’s just chopped basil. I think the easiest way to do it is to roll up the basil in a big bunch so it looks a bit like a cigar then slice. That’s chiffonade but you could just chop it with any knife or use kitchen scissors (I have a pair that I only use for food) to just cut it up right over your plates.

    • charityc says

      In this case I had leftover chicken but besides rotisserie chicken, I have 2 favorite ways to prepare it. Hot skillet (or grill pan, mine is like a skillet but has grill lines on it) plus a little olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and don’t put it on the pan until you test the pan with a drop of water to see if it sizzles. When it does, put the chicken down and cook for a few minutes on each side DEPENDING ON HOW BIG YOUR PIECES ARE. A boneless breast is going to take about 7 minutes on each side, a chicken tender will take about 4 minutes on each side and little cut up pieces will obviously take around 12 minutes to cook the whole pan, stirring them every couple of minutes. Alternatively, cook it in the oven at 375. Same prep: slather in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook in the oven until it’s firm (if the chicken is skinless the outside color won’t change much.) This will take about 20 minutes, flipping once along the way but again, cook longer for a whole chicken breast with the bone in, and less for something like chicken tenders (strips). Good luck!

  2. says

    This looks and sounds amazing! Do you have any suggestions for substituting the Greek yogurt? I am off of most dairy, but seem to do okay with cheese. Thank you!

    • charityc says

      Hi Kristy! Let’s see, you could still get a tangy taste by doing a bit more mozzarella cheese and wine, then sprinkle parmesan on top. It won’t be the same exactly but I’d give it a try!

    • charityc says

      No, but that’s what gives it a lot of tangy flavor. Instead you could use chicken broth, which would still be good but a different flavor. Let us know how it turns out!

  3. says

    Made this for the family, including 18-month old grandson. Kept some plain pasta aside for the little guy (just in case). Gave him the chicken which had the sauce and spinach on it and he gobbled it up! Next time we’ll give him the pasta too! You have some great ideas and recipes on your site that I’ll share with my son. Thank you!

    • charityc says

      Thanks so much, Debbie. I LOVE hearing about recipes that work for other families. I’m so glad your grandson enjoyed and by all means share Foodlets with everyone! 😉

  4. donna says

    Just wondering if I could substitute the wine for something else?? Wanting to make this at a child care Centre ☺

    • charityc says

      Hi Donna! Yes, you can squeeze a big lemon (and include the zest too — by using a small grater on the peel) in place of wine. You want something with a very tangy taste. Good luck and I hope the kids like it!


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