Spinach, Shrimp, & Mascarpone Pasta Salad

Spinach Shrimp & Mascarpone Pasta Salad - Served 2.1

Is it just me, or is pasta salad kind of a snooze?

Lame.  Boring.  A mockery of the greatness that is, well.. pasta?

I guess I just have a hard time accepting pasta being served cold.  Eating pizza cold?  Of course I’m into that, but mostly at 2:00am when I have no self-respect and/or 7:00am when my martinis come back to haunt me.  But pasta… cold?  It just feels wrong.

sauteed onions   spinach + onions

You know what else feels wrong?  This season of Dexter.  Do you guys watch?  Are you as confused as I am?  Because seriously, they’re ruining this show.  Deb & Dexter’s “I hate you” “I love you” “I want to kill you” “I should have killed you” back-and-forth is exhausting.  Like, enough already – this level of brother/sister dysfunction is just not believable, and I used to watch Real Housewives of New Jersey.  Showtime has redeemed itself though with Ray Donovan, which I’m really liking.  Jon Voight is an absolute mad genius, and it’s so funny to remember he’s Saint Angie’s dad.   Seriously, if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s worth tuning in for him alone.

time to blend!

time to blend!

Where was I again?  Oh yes, pasta salad.  Riddled with mayo, lacking in character, and generally underwhelming in taste.  Why has this become acceptable?  Who even likes these goopy globs of flavorless cholesterol?  I decided it was time for a change – it was time for pasta salad to be as wonderous as the noodles it’s made of.  To be savory, and delicious, and still healthy for you, too!

It’s time for Spinach, Shrimp, & Mascarpone Pasta Salad.

spinach & onions + mascarpone

spinach & onions + mascarpone

The best way to think of this salad is pesto-gone-light.  In lieu of basil, loads of EVOO, and pecorino cheese, I fashioned a sauce of spinach, a dash of EVOO, and mascarpone. The difference in fat and calories is astounding, yet the flavor is just as luscious as ever.  With my sauce prepared, all that was left to do was build texture and depth.  I first added roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes, bringing a needed pop of color and an extra dose of veggies to my dish.  Next, pre-cooked shrimp was tossed in, lending loads of protein and a meaty consistency.  Finally, pignoli nuts rounded everything out, adding a crunchy element and some good-for-you fat.

last step - mix it all up & refrigerate

last step – mix it all up & refrigerate

Dave and I initially enjoyed this dish cold, and it was more crisp and refreshing than I could have ever imagined.  Perfect for bbq’s, this pasta salad was a real palate cleanser while doubling as a complete meal.  If you’re looking for a more traditional side dish, simply skip the shrimp – this salad still sings without it.  Best of all, a few days later we enjoyed our leftovers heated up in the microwave – Served hot, this meal is just as winning as when you enjoy it chilled.

Versatile, easy to prepare, and bursting with complex flavor,  Spinach, Shrimp, & Mascarpone Pasta Salad finally does pasta justice.  Creamy and cool, this pasta salad tastes so right, there’s no way you can go wrong!

Spinach, Shrimp, & Mascarpone Pasta Salad


  • 5 cups Rotini Pasta (I used Ronzoni)
  • 1 lb Pre-Cooked Shrimp
  • 10 oz Chopped Frozen Spinach
  • 1/3 cup Mascarpone Cheese (I used Bel Gioioso)
  • 1 cup Diced Yellow Onion
  • 1/2 cup Diced Roasted Red Peppers
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Pignoli Nuts
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsps Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn – approx.


  1. Cook pasta as directed, then set aside and allow to cool in 1/2 cup cold water.
  2. In medium skillet, saute onions in EVOO over medium high heat until slightly browned. Next, add in spinach, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Saute until soft, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. When ready, in food processor blend room temperature spinach and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Drain pasta of excess water, then combine with sauce, stirring until thoroughly combined. Next add in shrimp, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and pignoli nuts, mixing well. Add additional salt & pepper if needed. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, then plate and serve.

>> Thaw spinach at the beginning of cooking.


Spinach Shrimp & Mascarpone Pasta Salad - Plated 2.1


Spinach Shrimp & Mascarpone Pasta Salad - Profile 1

the perfect pasta salad.