pasta fresca

June 14, 2010 by Ali

About the time I moved to Kansas City about five years ago, another new restaurant chain also happened to be moving in down the street – Noodles & Co! I admit, I was initially a little skeptical of the idea of so many pasta dishes being stir-fried in a matter of minutes. But when a “free noodles” coupon showed up in my mailbox during their opening week, I was all for giving it a try.

Five years ago, my first meal there was “pasta fresca”. And five years later, it’s still my fav. :)

It really is a breeze to make — just simple pasta, stir-fried with fresh spinach, red onions, garlic and tomatoes. Then it’s tossed with a light herb and balsamic vinaigrette, and (as they say) “sauteed to perfection”. That’s right – sauteed. Not the way I typically make pasta, but I actually love the extra flavor and texture the method lends to the dish.

So here’s my take on this yummy “pasta fresca”! I think it’s nearly identical to the original, but see what you think. ;) Also, feel free to sub in whatever meats, seafood, or tofu you would like instead of shrimp. Enjoy!!

Pasta Fresca Recipe
(Inspired by Noodles & Company)


Saute Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. pasta (I’d recommend mostaccoli or farfalle)
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (either fresh or roasted), minced
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • half a red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp (or cooked chicken, beef, seafood, tofu, etc.) **See Note Below**
  • 1 oz. baby fresh spinach
  • freshly grated parmesan

Herb & Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil, balsamic, white wine, parsley and salt) until well-blended.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, boil (well-salted) water, and cook pasta al dente (just slightly chewy) according to package instructions. Drain.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and saute for one minute. Then add in the tomatoes, onion, cooked pasta and your protein (shrimp, meat, etc.) and continue sauteing for 5 minutes until the pasta just slightly begins to brown.

Then add in the spinach and vinaigrette, and continue stirring and sauteing for another 3-5 minutes, until the spinach begins to wilt.

Remove from heat and serve, garnished with Parmesan or feta cheese.

Ali’s Tip:

If you’re beginning with raw shrimp (like I did), just cook them in the skillet first (with the garlic) before adding in the veggies and pasta.

filed in Entrees, Seafood

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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23 thoughts on “pasta fresca

  1. Thank you for this recipe! I’ve made it several times and it is delicious! However, I’ve used cooking wine and I was wondering if it would be better with actual wine. What kind do you recommend?

    - Lindsey

  2. OMG this is my favorite dish at noodles what brand of white wine and balsamic vingar do I buy?

    - Rachel spring

  3. Thank you for this great recipe! I made it last night and loved it! It tastes just like the Pasta Fresca from Noodles!

    - Lindsey

  4. I am trying this recipe tomorrow night. Pasta fresca is the only thing I order at Noodles!
    Couple questions, though… how many servings is this intended for? I’m guessing 4?
    And do you provide nutritional info on your recipes.

    Nonetheless, I can’t wait to try it! Looks amazing. And I agree with the previous poster who commented on your photos. Beautiful! The photos make my mouth water!

    - Jen

  5. I suggest adding the tomatoes near the end – just before the spinach. Adding it too early causes it to lose its firmness and become sort of mushy. Also, I cut down the balsamic to 1tbsp the second time I made this – much better. It you’ll still get that nice balsamic taste but you can retain the color and texture of your veggies.

    All in all, good recipe :)

    - AJ

  6. Thank you for this great recipe! I had tried other recipes I found online, but they were not quite right. I use white cooking wine, instead of the sweet white wine, and find that I have to add a half teaspoon of white sugar to the vinaigtrette to sweeten it a little.

    - writermom

  7. tastes like the real thing! and hardly costs anything either! thanks :)

    - jennie

  8. one OUNCE spinach?

    - Cacilia

  9. This is soooo good I make it often and it is so close to the real thing we don’t even go to Noodles anymore…

    - Mindy

  10. I had Pasta Fresca last night at Noodles and had to have it again. This recipe hit the spot. Thanks.

    - Beth

  11. Alison – what a wonderful recipe – and so diverse! Just made it tonight and it’s awesome…can’t wait to throw veggies from my garden in there at the end of summer! What a great light pasta recipe…love it! :)

    - E

  12. Oh my god, this looks so yummy!

    - Kat

  13. Ali,
    What brand of Balsamic vinegar would you recommend?

    - Cathy Swirbul

    • Hey Cathy!

      Sorry so late to reply! But I’ve been using Ortalli or Colavita — both really reasonably priced at regular grocery stores. I’m sure there are much better qualities (at higher prices) elsewhere, but this fits my budget. :-)

      Good luck!

      - ali

  14. This looks like just my kind of dish. We don’t have Noodles & Co. where I live – looks like a good place for a simple fast meal. However, this Pasta Fresca looks easy enough to make at home. Thanks for sharing.

    - Michelle

  15. This is a very Mediterranean dish – I love it! Your photos are so beautiful and vibrant, too. I’ll have to save this one for an easy weeknight dinner!

    - Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

  16. THANKS for this! I love the pasta fresca there as well. Have you tried their spring linguine with lemon and asparagus?? DELISH!

    - leanne

    • Hi Leanne,

      That’s funny you wrote that! No, I actually haven’t tried the lemon/asparagus spring linguine, but I just received an email from Noodles advertising that the dish will only be “in season” (on their menu) for a little while longer. I may have to give it a try — LOVE lemon and asparagus! :)


      - ali

  17. I love eating at Noodles too, but my favorite is the Japanese Pan Noodles. Yum! I’d love to try making the pasta fresca at home though. Looks delicious!

    - rita

  18. Hey Ali, your current instructions don’t include introduction of the protein. Probably some point between adding the pasta and adding the spinach?

    - FoodGeekFish