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Green Pasta Sauce with Rigatoni

Jun 20, 2022 | 2 comments

Say hello to the most luscious green pasta sauce! In just 15 minutes, you can be enjoying a bowl of this gorgeous pasta, loaded with all the goodness and nutrients from spinach. It’s so delicious, even the most ardent greens hater will love it.

Green pasta sauce with rigatoni on a white plate, with gold fork piercing a piece of pasta.

This sauce is fab for when you want something quick, but also want to get your veggies in. It uses A LOT of spinach, the colour is unreal and it genuinely is so delicious. I’ve used anchovies to amp up the umami, savoury flavours here but you can leave them out if you don’t like them (don’t knock this until you’ve tried it – they just add a layer of salty umami goodness you don’t get from salt alone – I promise it’s not fishy at all).

I love serving this gorgeous green pasta with a little drizzle of chilli oil for some extra punch, and a scattering of crispy pita crumbs. Creamy, crunchy, warming deliciousness in a bowl!


There are only 8 ingredients in this pasta, and all are easy to find.

Ingredients for green pasta sauce labelled and laid out on a grey marble background.
  • Spinach. These lovely, mild leaves give the sauce its vibrant green colour so they’re non-negotiable. I like using baby spinach leaves because I find they cook down and blend more easily. But, you can absolutely switch out the spinach for something else – kale or cavolo nero work well but do need more cooking than spinach – blanch them in boiling salted water for 3 minutes before popping them in the blender and following the rest of the recipe if you’re using them.
  • Anchovies. I know, I know. They seem a little scary right? I was always someone who thought they didn’t like anchovies, but that was before I started using them in sauces like this. Those lovely little things add an extra delicious layer of savouriness to the green sauce that salt alone won’t give you. But, I get it. If you are still weirded out by them, or you’re vegan, just leave them out.
  • Onion + garlic. Essential base ingredients – you could also use a shallot.
  • Lemon. This provides a little acidic cut-through for the sauce.
  • Parmesan. Try to buy a block and grate it yourself, rather than buying it pre-grated. The pre-grated stuff is coated with an anti-caking agent which means it won’t melt into the saucy properly here. My favourite hack for this dish is to just throw a little piece of parmesan straight into the blender with the sauce, rather than having to grate it first!
  • Pasta. A little bit key right? I’m using rigatoni in this recipe because I love how they capture the sauce, but you can use whatever pasta you have to hand.

You also need a blender for this recipe – I find it makes a smoother sauce than a food processor (and honestly, sometimes it’s just such a faff to even get the food processor out!)

How to make it

Start by getting your pasta in a big pot of salted water and bring it to a simmer. While the pasta cooks, make the green sauce. Drizzle olive oil into a pan over medium heat then add your onion. Cook until they start to soften and start to change colour (you’ll see them look a little more see-through). Once they’re softened, go in with the anchovies (if you’re using them) and the garlic and give all that a good sauté, stirring, for two minutes. You’ll want to kind of mash the anchovies into the pan so they dissolve into the oil.

Once those are softened nicely, it’s time to cook the spinach. If you’ve cooked spinach before you know that a seemingly HUGE pile of leaves will wilt down massively, so don’t be worried that you’re faced with a mountain of green here. It’ll cook down, I promise! Depending on the size of your pan you may need to add the spinach in batches. I added a couple of handfuls at a time because this pan is pretty little.

Once all your spinach is wilted down, go ahead and add everything from the pan into your blender, along with the lemon juice, parmesan chunk and a ladleful of pasta cooking water. Blitz into a lovely smooth sauce. Give it a good few minutes to blend up properly. If the sauce gets stuck and stops blending, just give the sides a scrape down and mix the sauce up a bit and try again. If it’s really not moving (this will depend on the power of your blender) add a little more pasta cooking water to get things moving (start with 2 tablespoons).

When your sauce is lovely and smooth, get it back in the same pan and add the pasta, directly from its pot. Give the pasta a good toss through the sauce, making sure every piece is well coated.

Divide the pasta between plates, top with more parmesan, chilli oil and the pita crumbs if you’re using them! This really is one of my favourite pasta dishes because it totally feels like you’re getting loads of goodness in at the same time. I think you’re going to love it.

Got a question about this green pasta sauce?

Can I make this pasta in advance?

You can! Just be aware that the pasta will continue to soak up the sauce as it sits so it really is best the day it’s made. But, if you want to prep this ahead I’d recommend either reheating it on the stovetop and adding a little water to help loosen the sauce, or add a little water (2 tablespoons to start) to it in a microwave safe bowl, giving it a stir and heating for a couple of minutes, stirring halfway through.

Also be aware that the colour of the sauce will darken the longer it’s exposed to the air, so it won’t be as lovely and vibrant if you’re making it in advance.

What if I don’t like anchovies?

Don’t worry at all – just don’t add them! The sauce is still delicious without them.

Can I use something other than spinach?

Yes, you can. I like spinach because it cooks really quickly and blends easily, but other greens like kale, silverbeet or cavolo nero will work equally well. If you are using those though, make sure you cook them longer as they’re tougher than spinach and won’t blend well if you just cook them in the pan. Blanch the greens in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and add to the blender.

Watch me make it


Easy, very green rigatoni! My new fave pasta dish 💃 #food #pasta #spinach #foodblog #londonfood

♬ original sound – Kate Alexandra

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Super green rigatoni with chilli oil drizzled on top on a white plate with a gold fork.

Green Pasta Sauce with Rigatoni

  • Author: Kate Alexandra
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Say hello to the most luscious green pasta sauce! In just 15 minutes, you can be enjoying a bowl of this gorgeous pasta, loaded with all the goodness and nutrients from spinach. It’s so delicious, even the most ardent greens hater will love it.

Remember, if you’re looking for US measurements, use the ‘Units’ section below and click on ‘US’.


Units Scale

For the pasta – 

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 anchovies
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 250g spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • 200g rigatoni
  • 30g parmesan + 2 tablespoons to serve
  • 1 tablespoon chilli oil

For the crispy pita dust –

  • 1 pita pocket, roughly torn
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. Make the crispy pita dust. Heat your oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Mix the torn pita bread, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl and toss, making sure the olive and salt coats the pita. Transfer to the tray and bake for 8 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool while you make the green pasta sauce.
  2. Cook the pasta. Fill a large pot with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Set it over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Add your pasta and let it cook while you’re making the sauce. You want it to be al dente – still with a little bite – this should take 10 minutes.
  3. Make the green sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan over a medium heat. Add the diced onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook for a couple of minutes until they’re getting soft and starting to change colour (they’ll go a little see through). Add this point, add the sliced garlic and the 2 anchovies if you’re using them, smooshing them down with the back of your spoon so they dissolve into the oil. Stir for another minute.
  4. Add the spinach. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches. Add the spinach and stir for a minute, until it starts to change colour and shrink in size. It’ll go a lot darker and softer as the water releases. 
  5. Blend the sauce. Add the contents of the pan into a blender with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, the parmesan (you can literally just put a little piece of parmesan in rather than grating it first) and about a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Pasta water is key in any pasta dish so never throw it away! It’s super starchy and will help to make your sauce really smooth, silky and creamy without having to add any cream. Blitz into a super smooth sauce, scraping down the sides a couple of times. This can take a good few minutes, just keep blending and add a little more pasta cooking water if it’s getting stuck.
  6. Mix the sauce with the pasta. Get your silky smooth green sauce back into the pan and transfer the pasta straight into the sauce from the pot it was cooking in. Toss everything together with tongs or a spatula, making sure the sauce coats every piece of pasta. If it’s looking a bit thick, add a little more pasta cooking water. Taste, season with more salt and a little more parmesan if you think it needs it.
  7. Garnish and serve. Divide between serving plates and drizzle each plate with ½ tablespoon of the chilli oil, 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan. Break the baked pita crisps into smaller pieces and then scatter 1 tablespoon over each of the bowls. Dig in!


The pita dust and chilli oil is totally optional here – I love them with the dish, but leave them out if you don’t have them or can’t be bothered making the pita dust!

Any pasta will do here. I like rigatoni because it really captures all the sauce well, but just use what you have. If you’re using fresh pasta, don’t cook it until you’ve blended up the sauce and are ready to add it back to the pan (this is because it takes only a couple of minutes to cook, rather than 10 minutes for dried pasta).

If you don’t have spinach, you can use any other leafy greens here. Kale, silverbeet or cavolo nero work really well but make sure you blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes before adding them to the blender – they don’t cook as quickly or easily as spinach. You can also do half spinach half kale or another green if you wish!

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: pasta
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: italian


  • Serving Size: 1 bowl

Keywords: pasta, spinach pasta, rigatoni, quick pasta


I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.





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  1. Annabel

    This was really tasty!! The kids love it too!

    • Kate Alexandra

      Yay!! I’m so pleased you all enjoyed it!


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