Cheesy Spinach Pasta Sauce for Toddlers

by Eat Well with Lex

Cheesy Spinach pasta sauce is a creamy, nutritious blend of superfoods like spinach, peas, and other veggies that’s quick to whip up in just minutes. Its a delicious and nutritious green pasta sauce recipe that is great for toddlers but even perfect for picky eaters. Toss this delectable sauce with your favorite pasta and this is bound to be a hit with the whole family!

If you want more healthy toddler meals with hidden veggies , try more veggie pasta recipes like Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce and Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta.

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This vibrant green sauce is not only packed with nutrients but is also a hit with toddlers, especially the pickiest of eaters. As a parent, I understand the struggles of getting toddlers to eat their veggies, which is why this sauce has been a game-changer in our household.

I like to think of this cheesy spinach pasta sauce a superhero in the kitchen. It’s easy to make, freezer-friendly and my daughter is always asking for seconds.

Spinach Pasta Sauce: A Superhero in Disguise

My toddler affectionately calls this sauce her “superhero pasta sauce” because it gives her energy and makes her feel strong. Little does she know, it’s packed with spinach and other nutritious ingredients that she might otherwise turn her nose up at.

As parents, we all want our toddlers to willingly eat veggies, but let’s face it, that’s not always the reality. Sometimes, we have to get a little creative to ensure they’re getting the essential nutrients their growing bodies need. If you find yourself in the struggle of coaxing your little one to eat their greens, fear not! The magic of this green pasta sauce lies in its superpower to seamlessly hide those veggies, making healthy eating a breeze.

Why Parents Love this Cheesy Spinach Pasta Sauce Recipe

  • Nutritious. Spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals essential for growing toddlers, including iron and calcium.
  • Sneaky Veggie: With this sauce, you can effortlessly sneak in a generous serving of greens without any fuss.
  • Easy to Prepare: Simply gather your ingredients, blend them, and warm the sauce on the stovetop before pouring it over pasta.
  • Easy Meal Prep: Whip up a batch of this sauce in advance and store it in the freezer for quick and convenient meals on busy days.
  • Customizable: Easily make this sauce dairy-free or vegan with a simple ingredient swap. Not a fan of a particular vegetable? Use one of the alternatives I list below.

Equipment Needed

Green Pasta Sauce Ingredients

  • Fresh Spinach: Spinach is a great source of iron, and vitamins A, C, and K which support your immune system. Use regular spinach or baby spinach.
  • Fresh Herbs: Basil leaves add a light sweetness and contribute to the green hue. Fresh parsley provides a fresh pop of peppery flavor.
  • Milk: I like to use coconut milk or a creamy dairy-free milk. This gets the sauce thick without dairy.
  • Garlic Clove: for flavor
  • Avocado Oil: This healthy fat has a buttery flavor without the butter and it also enriches the green pasta sauce. Olive oil works too.
  • Seasoning: I season with onion powder, salt (omit if serving to a baby), and ground black pepper.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Makes the sauce cheesy.
  • Lemon Zest: Add for garnish to brighten up the dish.

How to Make Green Pasta Sauce

Cook Pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

Make Creamy Green Pasta Sauce

To a high-speed blender or food processor, add the spinach, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, parsley, milk, garlic, avocado oil, onion powder, salt (optional if serving to baby), and freshly ground black pepper. Blend it all together until smooth and creamy.

Simmer of the Stove

Pour the sauce into a large skillet over medium heat and let the sauce simmer gently for about 3-5 minutes, stirringly occasionally. This helps to meld the flavors together and thicken the sauce slightly.

If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can add a little more milk to thin it out. Alternatively, if it’s too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes until it reaches your desired consistency. You can add optional ingredients like sweet peas at this step.

Once the sauce has simmered and reached your desired consistency, it’s ready to serve! Pour the cheesy spinach pasta sauce over cooked pasta of your choice and toss to coat evenly.

4 step visual for how to make green pasta sauce

Kid-Friendly Pasta for Green Pasta Sauce

  • Rotini: These spiral-shaped noodles are fun for kids to eat and do a great job of holding onto the sauce.
  • Fusilli: Similar to rotini, fusilli pasta features twists and turns that hold onto sauce beautifully.
  • Spaghetti: While it may be a bit messier for younger children, spaghetti is a familiar favorite that many kids enjoy. Plus, it’s fun to twirl on a fork!
  • Ditalini: Their small size makes them easy for little ones to eat, and they hold onto sauce nicely.
  • Star Pasta: Star-shaped pasta adds a playful element to mealtime and can be especially appealing to kids.
  • Alphabet Pasta: What’s more fun than eating your ABCs? Alphabet pasta can turn mealtime into a learning opportunity while also being delicious.

Variations and Substitutes

  • Other Vegetables. Swap or add in kale, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, or artichokes. Add sweet peas
  • Vegan Green Pasta Sauce. Instead of parmesan cheese, use vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes. Instead of topping the pasta with cheese, sprinkle the pasta with toasted nuts.
  • Gluten-free Pasta. If you or your family members follow a gluten-free diet, opt for gluten-free pasta varieties such as brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, or chickpea pasta to serve with the sauce.
  • Swap coconut milk with vegetable broth or pasta water.
  • Add Protein. To increase the protein content of the sauce, blend in cottage cheese, cooked chickpeas, white beans, or tofu. Or add bits of chicken.
green pasta in a skillet

Recipe Tips for Success

  • While frozen spinach can be used in a pinch, fresh spinach will provide the best flavor and texture for the sauce. Plus, fresh spinach tends to blend more smoothly, resulting in a creamier sauce.
  • Taste the sauce before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. Adding a pinch of salt and pepper at a time allows you to control the flavor without over salting. Remember that the cheese will also contribute to the saltiness of the sauce, so taste as you go.
  • If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a little more milk. Conversely, if it’s too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes to reduce and thicken.

Storage and Reheating

I like to store and reheat my cheesy spinach pasta sauce in Souper Cubes freezer trays because its great for easy portioning and convenience. Here’s how to do it:

Allow the sauce to cool completely at room temperature before transferring it to the Souper Cubes freezer trays. Once the sauce is cooled, ladle it into the individual compartments of the Souper Cubes freezer trays. Each compartment typically holds around 2 tbsp or 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce, providing convenient single-serving portions.

Place the trays in the freezer on a flat surface to freeze the sauce solid. It’s helpful to label the Souper Cubes trays with the date and contents using a permanent marker or labeling stickers. This ensures you can easily identify the sauce and keep track of its freshness.

Reheating

When you’re ready to enjoy the sauce, simply remove the desired number of portions from the freezer and transfer to a saucepan. Heat it gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until warmed through. Be careful not to heat the sauce too quickly or overcook it.

Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Their Greens

Getting kids to eat their vegetables can be a challenge, but with some creativity and persistence, you can encourage them to develop healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to help make veggies more appealing to kids:

  • Make it fun: Use cookie cutters to cut vegetables into fun shapes, create colorful veggie skewers, or arrange veggies on the plate to resemble a smiley face or other fun design.
  • Be a role model: Kids are more likely to eat their greens if they see their parents eating them too.
  • Get them involved: Involve kids in the meal preparation process by letting them pick out vegetables at the grocery store, wash them, and even help with simple cooking tasks like stirring or chopping (under supervision).
  • Make it a game: Turn mealtime into a game by having a “taste test” with different vegetables or giving each vegetable a fun nickname.
  • Offer Choices: Give kids a choice of vegetables to eat at meals or snacks. Present them with two or three options and let them pick which ones they want to try.
  • Be patient: It can take time for kids to develop a taste for vegetables, so be patient and persistent. Offer vegetables regularly and encourage them to try new things, but avoid pressuring or forcing them to eat foods they don’t like.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is green pasta sauce made of?

This green pasta sauce contains spinach, peas, basil, parsley, milk, avocado oil, parmesan cheese and various seasonings. However, any of these ingredients can be replaced with another. The best green pasta sauce contains at least one green vegetable, herbs and seasoning for flavor, and a creamy base.

Can I use a different type of cheese?

Absolutely! While parmesan cheese is used in this recipe, you can experiment with other cheeses such as mozzarella, cheddar, or a blend of cheeses for different flavor profiles.

How long does the sauce keep in the refrigerator?

The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Make sure to cool it completely before refrigerating.

Is spinach pasta sauce good for babies too?

Yes, this sauce can be a nutritious option for babies too, especially when served with age-appropriate pasta shapes.

More Toddler Meal with Veggies:

Carrot Soup for Babies and Toddlers with Bone Broth

Spinach Banana Pancakes

Kid-Friendly Lentil Soup with Veggies

Easy Homemade Broccoli Tots

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Cheesy Spinach Pasta Sauce

Cheesy Spinach pasta sauce is a creamy, nutritious blend of superfoods like spinach, peas, and other veggies that's quick to whip up in just minutes. Its a delicious and nutritious green pasta sauce recipe that is great for toddlers but even perfect for picky eaters.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 5

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 handfuls fresh ppinach
  • bunch fresh basil about 7-8 leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh Parsley
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice optional
  • ½ cup Peas optional

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  • To a high-speed blender or food processor, add the spinach, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, parsley, milk, garlic, avocado oil, onion powder, salt (optional if serving to baby), and freshly ground black pepper. Blend it all together until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the sauce into a large skillet over medium heat and let the sauce simmer gently for about 3-5 minutes, stirringly occasionally. This helps to meld the flavors together and thicken the sauce slightly. You can add optional ingredients like sweet peas at this step.
  • If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can add a little more milk to thin it out. Alternatively, if it's too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Once the sauce has simmered and reached your desired consistency, it's ready to serve! Pour the cheesy spinach pasta sauce over cooked pasta of your choice and toss to coat evenly.
  • If you have any leftover sauce, let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or freeze in Souper Cubes for up to 2-3 months.

Notes

  • Kid-friendly pasta to use: rotini, fusilli, spaghetti , ditalini, star pasta or alphabet pasta. 
  • To make it vegan, use a vegan cheese.
  • If you or your family members follow a gluten-free diet, opt for gluten-free pasta varieties such as brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, or chickpea pasta to serve with the sauce. 
  • To increase the protein content of the sauce, blend in cottage cheese, cooked chickpeas, white beans, or tofu. Or add bits of chicken.
  • Taste the sauce before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. Adding a pinch of salt and pepper at a time allows you to control the flavor without over salting. Remember that the cheese will also contribute to the saltiness of the sauce, so taste as you go.
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Broccoli Cheese Bites | Eat Well With Lex March 15, 2023 - 3:10 pm

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