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pasta fresca

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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!!


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Pasta Fresca

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes


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
  • 34 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


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil, balsamic, white wine, parsley and salt) until well-blended.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Then add in the spinach and vinaigrette, and continue stirring and sauteing for another 3-5 minutes, until the spinach begins to wilt.
  5. Remove from heat and serve, garnished with Parmesan or feta cheese.


Inspired by Noodles & Company


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.

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30 comments on “pasta fresca”

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

  2. 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!

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

    • 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. 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!

  5. 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.

    • I’m about to make this. Don’t have fresh parsley but have dried will it work in the recipe? Lisa

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

    • 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. Oh my god, this looks so yummy!

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

  10. 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. one OUNCE spinach?

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

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

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

  18. 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?

  19. I found a few recipes for my favorite Noodle Co. pasta dish – even the one someone posted from the restaurant itself – and this one was GOLDEN. I cooked the onions a bit longer then added the tomato since tomato breaks down faster, and used gluten free penne. This was FABULOUS. The taste was identical and your ratio for the sauce was fantastic. Thank you!

  20. Thanks so much for posting this! Do you know if you can save the sauce? I thought about making this for lunches, so maybe make a full batch of the sauce and then fridge/freeze it until it is time to prepare the rest of the dish. Have you tried that, or do you think it could work with this recipe? Thanks!

  21. Yum yum yum. My kids were crushed when we moved to a new community which had no Noodles and Co. We just made this and they give it a huge thumbs up! Great recipe, easy to follow.

  22. Delicious and true to form!