Pasta With Spinach and Fresh Tomatoes

Spinach is as popular in my household as carrots. Bugs Bunny and Popeye were not as silly as they looked.

Not all tomato sauces are made from cooking tomatoes for hours until they are desperately thick and all but free of any excess water. We don’t always have the time, and the freshness you get from just warmed, just ripe tomatoes, preferably from your own bush, is truly the taste of summer.

I made this for the kids, in one of those desperate family moments when dinner for them needs to be done quickly, and you’re going out, and there’s not much to play with. So I peeled and chopped, and tossed a few tomatoes with a few spinach leaves. And the colours were sharp, and the flavours were hot. And they loved it and cleaned their bowls. So the next night, when they’d all gone to bed, we did it again. This time with chilli.

3-4 fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped roughly, but carefully

small bunch of basil

handful of baby spinach or chopped spinach, washed well – You could also use that wonderful peppery salad called rocket or rucola.


black pepper

plenty of virgin olive oil

200 g dried pasta – Choose your preference. This works with squiggles, or straights like linguine.

2 cloves garlic, sliced finely

1 chilli, chopped finely – Use more if you want a hit.

100 g parmesan, grated – Use more of this, too, if you want to.

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


Mix the chopped tomato, basil, spinach, salt, black pepper, and a little of the olive oil, toss well and leave for a few minutes, or as long as you like. If you lose interest, stop now. You’ve got a lovely salad, just needing a little time to draw the juice from the tomatoes.


Cook the pasta, following the instructions on the packet. While the pasta is boiling, cook garlic and chilli in a little hot oil for a minute, sliding the pieces about the pan. You don’t want to brown the garlic, just get it all fired up, ready to give its aroma to the room, and its flavour to what is to come. Add the tomato and spinach mixture and allow it to sizzle, and cook for a minute or so, stirring about in the Chinese style. You want the tomato just to start to give itself to the pan.


Drain the pasta and toss into the pan, drawing the tomato and spinach together. Add lots of grated cheese, and toss through, again and again, and again.


When well tossed, add a good pour of olive oil, several turns of the pepper mill, and the balsamic vinegar.


Serve with grated cheese on side, and a jug of your best olive oil, for those like me, who can’t get enough of it.

WINE: Try a good young pinot with plenty of fruit. The Yarra Valley grows the most consistently good pinot in Australia.