pasta fresca

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

Make this favorite "Noodles & Co" dish at home!! Easy recipe and photographs included


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, bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil, 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.

Inspired by Noodles & Company

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

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.

Leave a Comment:


  1. FoodGeekFish — June 15, 2010 @ 8:16 am (#)

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

    • ali — June 15th, 2010 @ 9:18 am

      Oops! Had it in the ingredient list, but not in the method – just corrected that. :) Thanks!!

  2. rita — June 15, 2010 @ 8:29 am (#)

    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!

    • ali — June 15th, 2010 @ 9:19 am

      And Rita, I also love the Japanese Pan Noodles!!! So tasty!


  3. leanne — June 15, 2010 @ 3:14 pm (#)

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

    • ali — June 16th, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

      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! :)


  4. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — June 16, 2010 @ 9:35 am (#)

    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!

    • ali — June 16th, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

      Thanks Georgia! That’s what the recipe was for me – easy. weeknight. dinner. Gotta love those! :D


  5. Michelle — June 16, 2010 @ 10:35 am (#)

    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.

  6. Cathy Swirbul — June 18, 2010 @ 11:53 am (#)

    What brand of Balsamic vinegar would you recommend?

    • ali — June 24th, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

      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!

  7. Kat — June 20, 2010 @ 11:34 am (#)

    Oh my god, this looks so yummy!

  8. E — June 22, 2010 @ 10:04 pm (#)

    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! :)

  9. Beth — August 3, 2010 @ 10:54 am (#)

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

  10. Mindy — December 22, 2010 @ 4:09 pm (#)

    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…

  11. Cacilia — January 2, 2011 @ 1:36 pm (#)

    one OUNCE spinach?

  12. jennie — March 15, 2011 @ 7:24 pm (#)

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

  13. writermom — November 26, 2011 @ 5:13 pm (#)

    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.

  14. AJ — January 29, 2012 @ 5:52 pm (#)

    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 :)

  15. Jen — June 2, 2012 @ 8:17 pm (#)

    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!

  16. Lindsey — July 9, 2013 @ 1:50 pm (#)

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

  17. Rachel spring — August 20, 2013 @ 9:44 pm (#)

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

  18. Lindsey — May 16, 2014 @ 10:33 am (#)

    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?


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