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The Best Italian Penne Rosa Pasta

Penne rosa pasta is a delightful and effortless dish that combines the simplicity of pasta with the richness of a creamy tomato sauce. This one-pot wonder is perfect for busy weeknights, as it requires minimal fuss but delivers maximum flavor. The combination of al dente penne, fresh spinach leaves, juicy tomatoes, melted mozzarella, and a velvety sauce creates a harmonious balance of savory flavors that can be savored on its own or paired with a crisp green salad. With this recipe, you’ll be treated to a comforting and satisfying meal that’s sure to become a staple in your household.

How to Make Penne Rosa Pasta

To begin, heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cook the onion and bell pepper for several minutes until they’re tender. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the mix and continue cooking for another minute or so. Next, stir in crushed Roma tomatoes and bay leaves, then cover the pot and let it simmer for a few minutes before discarding the bay leaves. The next step is to add heavy cream, fresh spinach, salt, and pepper to the pot, giving everything about three minutes over low heat until the spinach has wilted. After that, simply stir in cooked penne pasta – make sure it’s al dente according to package directions – along with chopped parsley and shredded cheese. Finally, serve the hot pasta with extra parmesan or shredded cheese on top for a rich and satisfying meal that’s got just the right amount of kick.

More on this Pasta Rosa

The Penne alla Rosa dish derives its name from two sources: the penne pasta used and the Italian word ‘rosa’, meaning pink, which refers to the vibrant color achieved when combining cream and tomatoes. The unique shape of penne pasta, characterized by a cylindrical form with angled edges, was inspired by the quill, an actual writing instrument. This fascinating etymology adds a layer of depth to this classic Italian dish.

Variations, Substitutions and Add-Ins

Feel free to get creative with the veggies in your penne rosa recipe! For a Noodles & Company-inspired twist, try adding some sautéed mushrooms to make it a copycat penne rosa pasta recipe. You can also customize with protein sources like grilled shrimp or chicken, swap out leafy greens for spinach, or add crumbled bacon for added smokiness.At Noodles & Co., this dish is often served with rice noodles or zucchini noodles, so don’t be afraid to experiment with alternative noodles if you prefer. Make a big batch of this copycat recipe that’s just like the restaurant version.Some popular pairings at Noodles & Co. include parmesan-crusted chicken, marinated steak, and oven-roasted meatballs – feel free to get inspired by these options or create your own unique combinations.This penne rosa sauce is one of my absolute favorites, offering a nice change of pace from traditional marinara, red sauce, spaghetti sauce, or Alfredo. If you’re looking for a lighter version, consider substituting milk or Half & Half for the heavy cream – it’ll be a slightly different flavor profile, but with fewer calories and less fat. It’s all about finding the perfect balance for your easy pasta dish.

Penne Rosa Recipe FAQs

When it comes to storing leftovers, airtight containers and the refrigerator are your best friends. Use them to keep your creations fresh for up to four days. Before reheating, consider adding a splash of broth or water to revive the flavors. The key is to maintain that perfect balance of creaminess and zest.This one-pot pasta dish is a meal in itself, boasting a rich sauce, satisfying pasta, and nutritious veggies. Enjoy it as a standalone vegetarian dinner or pair it with your go-to protein – think parmesan-crusted chicken or grilled steak – for a well-rounded side dish. If you prefer to serve it alongside something else, the options are endless: corn on the cob, an Italian-inspired salad, garlic bread, or even cheese twists, if you’re willing to indulge in some extra carbs. Don’t forget that crowning glory – parmesan cheese!Feel free to experiment with different pasta shapes and types. Penne is a great choice, but you can also try spirals, rigatoni, spaghetti, linguine, or even zucchini or butternut squash noodles. Simply spiralize the veggies using a spiralizer, and incorporate your favorite pasta sauce elements to create a unique twist.

Italian Penne Rosa Pasta Recipe

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Italian Penne Rosa Pasta

Penne rosa pasta is a delightful and effortless dish that can be prepared in just one pot, making it an ideal option for busy weeknights. The creamy sauce adds a rich and satisfying twist to the classic Italian recipe. This dish requires only 20 minutes of prep time, 30 minutes of cooking time, and yields four servings, perfect for a family dinner or a quick meal with friends.


In a large pan, warm olive oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Next, add the onion and bell pepper, cooking for 3-4 minutes. The aroma of sautéed vegetables will start to fill the air. With the mixture still sizzling, add minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for an additional minute. Then, introduce crushed tomatoes and bay leaves to the pan, stirring well to combine. Cover the pan and let it simmer over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the pot and add heavy whipping cream, salt, and pepper. Stir in a handful of fresh spinach leaves, allowing them to cook down for about 3-4 minutes. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in cooked penne pasta. Finally, mix in mozzarella cheese and chopped parsley. Remove the pan from heat, garnish with additional fresh parsley or shaved parmesan if desired.