clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
cream based pasta using milk

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Italian


Made with fresh tomatoes, milk, and neufchatel cheese. This fresh tomato cream sauce is tossed with hot penne for an easy, light, and meatless meal.  


Units Scale
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. fresh firm tomatoes, such as beefsteak or plum, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil or 2 tsp. fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 oz. Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, lightly packed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • 8 oz. dry penne pasta
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper


  1. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, and basil. Cook for about 3 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and some of the liquid has reduced.
  2. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and gradually whisk in the milk. Let simmer 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in cream cheese and Parmesan and cook until melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Add spinach and stir until wilted, and then, add the parsley.
  5. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain reserving some of the pasta water. Add pasta to the sauce. Thin out with pasta water as needed. Serve immediately.


  • Tomatoes: This sauce is great to make with fresh tomatoes that are on the firm side, whether from the supermarket or your own garden. Beefsteak, plum, or even tomatoes on the vine work great.
  • Milk: Whole milk or 2% milk works the best. I wouldn’t use anything lower in fat than that.
  • Cream Cheese: Neufchatel cheese is basically lower fat cream cheese. Regular cream cheese can be substituted. Just make sure it’s the brick kind and not the spreadable one.
  • Spinach: I’ve never made this dish with frozen spinach but I would imagine it will work.  Just make sure to thaw out the spinach completely and squeeze out as much moisture as you can before adding to the sauce.
  • Parsley: If parsley is not your thing, add fresh basil instead.
  • Pasta: Any type of pasta works here. Just remember to reserve some of that pasta water to thin out the sauce.
  • Leftovers: Leftovers will keep refrigerated up to 4 days in an airtight container. Reheat over medium-low heat with a splash of some type of liquid, such as milk, cream, chicken broth, or even white wine.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 397
  • Sugar: 8.6 g
  • Sodium: 163.4 mg
  • Fat: 13.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 56 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Cholesterol: 16.5 mg

Keywords: cream sauce with milk, easy, summer