The Best Creamy Tuscan Pasta Recipe with Sardines

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Discover how to effortlessly craft your own creamy Tuscan pasta with a garlicky parmesan sauce that’s bursting with flavors! It’s destined to captivate the entire family’s taste buds. This dish marries the richness of creamy sauce with the distinct taste of sardines, creating comfort food full of amazing flavor!

Creamy Tuscan pasta served in two, white speckled bowls.

This dish would a make a great meal prep option for weeknight dinners since it yields 12 servings. You could also impress first time dinner guests with this great recipe.

We mainly share sweets and desserts on here but we are BIG pasta fans in my house. When I whipped this up over the weekend, I couldn’t resist sharing this delicious creamy Tuscan pasta recipe with you!

There is an unsuspecting ingredient in this hearty meal…sardines. Don’t let that deter you from making this. I know sardines can be a love/hate thing for a lot of people. The amount that is present is not overwhelming and adds just enough of that umami flavor! If sardines still isn’t your thing, I’ve included some substitutions down below that you can try.

If you’re a big fan of pasta like we are, you’ll love our bacon spaghetti recipe!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Below, you will find the ingredients needed for this tasty dish!

  • Sour cream
  • Heavy cream
  • Short pasta (we used rigatoni pasta)
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Garlic cloves
  • Canned Sardines in olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red chili flakes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

See recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Creamy Tuscan Pasta

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook just until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Strain and set pasta aside. Mince garlic while pasta is cooking. Set large pan to medium heat. Empty can of sardines in large pan including the olive oil. Sauté and break up pieces for a few minutes.
  2. Add in some oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes then throw in the minced garlic. Sauté. Add in sun-dried tomatoes along with more of its oil and the spinach. Cook spinach until wilted.
  3. Next, you’ll want to add in the heavy cream and sour cream. With a spoon or spatula, stir in salt, pepper to taste, Italian seasoning, and red chili flakes. Set pan to low heat and let sauce simmer and thicken for 3-4 minutes. Add in parmesan, stir, then toss in your favorite pasta. If the Tuscan sauce is too thick, add in a bit of the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Serve and enjoy!
Creamy Tuscan pasta served in one, white speckled bowl.

Recipe Substitutions

Below are a few substitutions you may consider when make this recipe:

  • Sardines – instead of sardines, you can use cooked chicken. Add it into your creamy sauce when you throw in the pasta. Toss in some spicy Italian sausage to make a creamy sausage pasta. Other proteins that would work well: shrimp or anchovies.
  • Oil – if you decide to skip the sardines, use olive oil in place of that. About 2 tablespoon’s worth.  
  • Vegetarian – you can always swap out meat for a plant-based protein or simply add in more of your favorite vegetables to bulk up this recipe. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes – omit these from the recipe if you know you’re going to be serving this dish to those (or kiddos) who may be intolerant to spicy foods. This ingredient can easily be added to individual bowls and adjusted according to taste and tolerance. 
  • Garlic Cloves – you can use garlic powder in lieu of fresh garlic cloves.
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes – instead of sun-dried tomatoes, you can use fresh tomatoes. If going this route, be sure to add more olive oil to your skillet since you wont be using oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes. 
  • Rigatoni – we recommend using a short cut pasta like rigatoni. Feel free to swap this one for another variety like penne pasta, fusilli, ziti, or farfalle.  
Rigatoni in a white bowl.

Looking for more sardine recipes? Check out our crispy and flavorful recipe for fried sardines (a fan favorite) and our new sardine salad recipe!

Recipe Variations

  • Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce – if you’d like to have a more robust tomato flavor in this pasta dish, consider adding in a 6oz can of tomato paste.
  • Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Recipe – to make this, simply omit the sardines and add in chunks of cooked, tender chicken.
  • Fresh Herbs – add in a handful of fresh basil along with the baby spinach. The fresh herbs along with the Italian spices will add tons of flavor to this delicious meal! 
  • Extra Sardines – if you’re not one to shy away from sardines, toss in an extra can for added flavor.

Storing your Creamy Tuscan Pasta

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Always check for any signs of spoilage before consuming such as an off-smell or change in color and texture.

Top Tip

If skipping sardines: use a combination of olive oil (2 tablespoons) and some of the oil from your jar of sundried tomatoes to sauté the minced garlic and spinach. If you substitute a can of sardines for a can of anchovies, use the oil from the can of anchovies along with the sun-dried tomato oil.

FAQ

What to Serve with Creamy Pasta?

-an arugula salad 
-bruschetta 
-crusty bread-a glass of white wine like sauvignon blanc or chardonnay –caprese salad recipe cherry tomatoes

Equipment

  • Dutch oven or large skillet

Be sure to check out our latest recipe added to the blog, a virgin moscow mule recipe. It’s a great mocktail recipe to ring in the new year with or to enjoy during Dry January.

Creamy Tuscan Pasta

Make this delicious creamy Tuscan pasta for weekly dinner meal prep or to serve up when having guests over!
Print Recipe PIN RECIPE
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Total Time:20 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 16 oz pasta I recommend penne or rigatoni
  • 16 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 can sardines
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes can use whole or cut into strips
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook just until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Strain and set pasta aside. Mince garlic while pasta is cooking. Set large pan to medium heat. Empty can of sardines in large pan including the olive oil. Sauté and break up pieces for a few minutes.
  • Add in some oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes then throw in the minced garlic. Sauté. Add in sun-dried tomatoes along with more of its oil and the spinach. Cook spinach until wilted.
  • Next, you’ll want to add in the heavy cream and sour cream. With a spoon or spatula, stir in salt, pepper to taste, Italian seasoning, and red chili flakes. Set pan to low heat and let sauce simmer and thicken for 3-4 minutes. Add in parmesan, stir, then toss in your favorite pasta. If the Tuscan sauce is too thick, add in a bit of the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Serve and enjoy!

6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    OMG!!!! The flavor of the sun dried tomatoes and sardines was mind blowing 👍🏿🤛🏿🤛🏿. I made this after inviting some friends over and had to made some extra cause every was talking about how good this was and was yes to take some home. Thanks for a great recipe.

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