Mafalde might just be my favourite shape of pasta ever, and it's shown off beautifully in this luxuriously glossy spinach and goat cheese sauce. On the table in just 15 minutes (!), this quick and easy pasta dish is made extra special with fresh garlic, toasted pine nuts and soft, creamy goat cheese.
I love a quick dinner - after a long day, who wants to spend more time than necessary standing around in the kitchen? This mafalde pasta with spinach and goat cheese takes no time at all to prepare, with the sauce being prepared as the pasta is cooking, and it's undeniably delicious.
The sauce is made by melting down soft goat cheese, which creates an irresistibly smooth, silky sauce that lightly coats the pasta noodles.
And much like my other creamy pasta recipes, this one can be adapted to use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or freezer!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It can be on the table in just 15 minutes!
- It's just as appropriate for a busy weeknight as it is for a fancy date with your partner
- It uses just a few simple ingredients
- It can easily be adapted to use whatever vegetables you have in the house
Here's what you'll need to make this simple creamy pasta dish:
- mafalde pasta. I love mafalde as it has more of a bite to it than some smaller pasta shapes, but of course, any other shape of pasta will also taste great in the creamy goat cheese sauce.
- goat cheese. Make sure you choose a soft and creamy goat cheese, not a hard one, as this will be best for the glossy goat cheese sauce.
- parmesan cheese. You'll need to choose a vegetarian version here. 'Real' parmesan is actually made with animal rennet, but I find that most generic 'Italian hard cheeses' are vegetarian. Bonus - they're usually cheaper too! You can buy it pre-grated, or grate it yourself.
- spinach. I used frozen spinach, but fresh spinach will work just fine too.
- garlic. A good rule of thumb is to use one clove of garlic per portion, but you can certainly increase this if you're a big fan of garlicky food!
- pesto. Basil pesto is ideal for this dish. You can use homemade or shop-bought.
- pine nuts. You can eat pine nuts as they come, but I definitely recommend toasting them, as detailed below, as it improves the flavour immeasurably.
See the printable recipe card below for detailed ingredient quantities.
👌 Top tip
There's no need to look down on frozen vegetables! They're just as nutrient-rich as fresh vegetables, and they also help to reduce food waste. Just take what you need, and return the rest to the freezer - no more half-bags of spinach left wilting in the fridge!
👩🏻🍳 Ingredient Swaps
As with most of my recipes, this creamy pasta recipe is so easy to customise.
Here are a few ways you could adapt this recipe to suit you better:
- Swap the spinach for whatever other vegetables you have in the fridge or freezer. Pretty much anything will work - just be aware that a harder vegetable will take longer to cook. I'd recommend trying vegetables like peppers, mushrooms or asparagus, which can all cook very quickly in a frying pan.
- If you're not a fan of goat cheese, try using another soft, melty cheese instead. Blue cheese, ricotta, mascarpone, or cream cheese should work nicely.
- Experiment with using different types of pesto (such as tomato pesto, for example). You could even swap it for fresh herbs instead.
Here's how to make this creamy mafalde pasta recipe.
Step 1: Begin to boil the pasta in plenty of water.
Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, fry off the spinach and garlic together. You can use a splash of oil if needed, but you might find it's not necessary, especially if you're using frozen spinach, as the water it releases is usually enough to prevent it from sticking.
Step 3: Add the goat cheese, parmesan and pesto to the pan, along with plenty of black pepper. Allow the cheese to melt down to create the smooth, glossy sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of water to loosen it up a little.
👌 Top tip
Whenever you need to add water to a pasta sauce, scoop out some of the water you're cooking the pasta in, rather than just tap water. It will contain some of the starch from the pasta, which will make the sauce extra glossy.
Step 4: Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan. They only take a few minutes, and once they start to brown, they can turn quickly, so keep a close eye on them to prevent burning!
If you want, you can toast a few extra pine nuts, and save them to use up over the next couple of days. I love scattering them over salads and soups, crouton-style, like I did with this creamy mushroom soup.
💭 Mafalde FAQs
Mafalde pasta - also known as mafalda or mafaldine - is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta that usually measures approximately 1-2cm in width. It's similar to tagliatelle, except it has ruffled edges along its length. There's also 'mafalde corta', which is a shorter version of the same noodle.
Mafalde is perhaps one of the lesser known pasta shapes, and as such it may be more difficult to find it in the shops. If needed, you can purchase it online, from Amazon US / Amazon UK.
Of course! Mafalde pasta works perfectly in this recipe, but there's absolutely no reason you couldn't use a different shape of pasta instead. Just use your favorite, or whatever you have on hand.
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📖 Printable Recipe
Mafalde Pasta with Spinach and Goat Cheese
If you've cooked this recipe, don't forget to leave a star rating!Print Pin Comment
- 270 g mafalde pasta (~ 9 ½ oz)
- 200 g (~ 7 oz) frozen spinach
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 125 g (~ 4 ½ oz) soft goat cheese
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped parmesan cheese (use a vegetarian version)
- 1 Tablespoon pesto
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- Add the mafalde pasta to a pan of boiling water, and boil until cooked to your liking (approximately 12 minutes).
- While the pasta is cooking, add the frozen spinach and the chopped garlic to a large frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of water. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the spinach has fully defrosted and most of the excess water has evaporated.
- Add the soft goat cheese, finely grated parmesan, pesto, and plenty of black pepper to the spinach. Cook over a medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the cheese has melted, and the ingredients have combined to give a smooth, glossy sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, you can loosen it up by adding a spoonful or two of the pasta cooking water.
- Toast the pine nuts by adding them to a dry frying pan, and cooking over a medium heat for a few minutes, until golden brown. Once they begin to brown, they can turn quickly, so keep an eye on them to prevent burning. Stir them regularly to encourage even browning.
- When the pasta is ready, drain the water away, and add the pasta to the sauce, along with the toasted pine nuts. Best served immediately.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.
I couldn't find mafalde, so just used wide egg noodles, and then realized I was out of pine nuts, so toasted some almond slivers instead. It was amazing, and the perfect amount of time and effort for the weary end of a long and stressful day. I can't wait to try it with the proper ingredients next time. Thanks!
Becca Heyes says
Thanks Alyssa, glad you made it work for you and enjoyed it! :)
I do very similar to this with aubergine - dice it, fry it off gently in oil with loads of garlic (put a lid on the pan so it cooks mostly in its own steam and doesn't eat too much oil), then mix in half a log of creamy goat cheese and stir through pasta. Or midweek mushroom pasta, which is mushrooms and garlic and then some kind of cream cheese - often half a tub of mascarpone - parsley (or spinach) and served with fresh pasta. Topped with grated Parmesan or similar, in both cases.
Becca Heyes says
Aubergine sounds like an amazing addition!