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15 Minute Super Green Rigatoni

Jun 20, 2022 | 2 comments

A comforting bowl of gorgeously good-for-you green rigatoni is the PERFECT quick weeknight meal the whole family will love. It’s easy, quick and great for using up wilting veg. A drizzle of chilli oil and crunchy breadcrumbs make it extra special.

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

It’s a hard one to call (and my answer probably changes every week), but this recipe tends to be at the top of my list when I want something comforting, quick AND easy. It’s a wonderful ‘clear out the veg drawer’ recipe because you can switch your greens up, and it still works. Use kale, arugula (rocket), cavolo nero or even lettuce that needs using up, and you’ll transform the sad, wilting greens into something vibrant and fresh.

I love serving this gorgeous green rigatoni with a little drizzle of chilli oil and a scattering of crispy breadcrumbs to make a wonderful bowl of comfort that still feels nourishing.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • SUPER quick and easy – make the sauce while the pasta cooks, just 15 minutes from start to finish.
  • Packed with nourishing greens – all the comfort of pasta without it feeling too heavy.
  • A fab way to use up any wilting greens in your veg drawer.


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. Arugula or even lettuce will also work.
  • Anchovies. These add an extra delicious layer of savouriness to the green sauce that salt alone won’t give you. But I know they’re divisive so if you’re not a fan – or you want to make it vegetarian – you can leave them out. As a substitute, use 2 teaspoons of white miso paste.
  • Parmesan. Try to use a block of parmesan, rather than using pre-grated. The pre-grated stuff is coated with an anti-caking agent which means it won’t melt into the sauce 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. 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.

How to make it

Start by cooking your pasta in a big pot of boiling water, then make your sauce while it’s cooking. Add your onion and olive oil to a pan and 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, 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 breadcrumbs if you’re using them.

Got a question?

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 adding 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. Or, make the sauce ahead of time if you like (it will keep well for at least 3 days in the fridge) and then just toss with pasta when you’re ready to serve.

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. To get a similar flavour, you could use 2 teaspoons of white miso paste instead.

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 arugula, any kind of lettuce, kale, silverbeet or cavolo nero will work equally well. If you are using kale, silverbeet or cavolo nero, 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.

Like this recipe? Here are more quick pasta ideas you might like to try

If you make this recipe make sure you leave a comment below! I love hearing about how you get on with my creations.

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

15 Minute Super Green Rigatoni

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


A comforting bowl of gorgeously good-for-you green rigatoni is the PERFECT quick weeknight meal the whole family will love. It’s easy, quick and great for using up wilting veg. A drizzle of chilli oil and crunchy breadcrumbs make it extra special.


Units Scale

For the pasta – 

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 anchovies (or use 2 teaspoons of white miso paste)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 9oz/250g spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7oz/200g rigatoni (or any pasta shape of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1oz/30g parmesan + 2 tablespoons to serve
  • 1 tablespoon chilli oil

For the crispy breadcrumbs –

  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon chilli oil (or olive oil)


  1. Make the crispy breadcrumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of chilli oil to a small pan over medium heat, then add the breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, until golden brown and smelling toasty. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Make the green sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan you used to toast the breadcrumbs. Add the diced onion and 1 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.
  3. Cook the pasta. While you’re softening your onions, set a large pot about 2/3 full with water over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring it to a boil, then add your pasta and let it cook while you finish the sauce. You want it to be al dente – still with a little bite – this should take about 10 minutes (refer to the packet of whatever pasta you’re using for precise timing). PRO TIP: To make this process faster, I normally use my electric jug to boil the water, and then add it to the pan, rather than waiting for it to boil on the stove. 
  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 will soften 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. 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. PRO TIP: 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.
  6. Mix the sauce with the pasta. Get your silky smooth green sauce back into the pan and transfer the cooked 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, and 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 with ½ tablespoon of the chilli oil, the remaining parmesan and the crispy breadcrumbs. Enjoy right away.


STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: Like any pasta, this is best enjoyed right away, as the pasta will continue to absorb the liquid as it sits in the sauce. It will still taste delicious when reheated, but the texture won’t be quite the same. It will keep well for at least 3 days, stored in the fridge. You could also make the sauce ahead of time, and then just mix through cooked pasta when you’re ready to serve.

INGREDIENT NOTES: 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, or use arugula (rocket) or lettuce.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: I love to serve this pasta with lovely fresh bread – try it with no-knead chilli oil focaccia or fragrant rosemary parmesan bread.

  • 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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