penne rosa with shrimp

Penne Rosa with ShrimpPenne Rosa with Shrimp

I’ve been holding out on you guys. For a few weeks now, I’ve been stockpiling recipes so I could have some fun yumminess to share while I was chillaxing on the beach this week. I felt particularly guilty about holding onto this one because it had all the elements of my favorite kind of recipe: supremely easy, speedy, delicious and healthy. But think of it is my gift in exchange for disappearing for a week. I go hang out on the beach for a week and you get a delicious recipe. Fair trade, right?

Okay, maybe not. But this is still a good one!

The inspiration for this weeknight pasta dish actually comes from my eternal laziness. My office is directly above a Noodles and Company restaurant and more often than not, laziness wins out when I need lunch and I just make the quick trip down there to grab a real-food lunch. A lot of times I get their Med Salad (so yum!) but sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit decadent, I’ll go for their Penne Rosa. Unfortunately, the regular size of that dish clocks in at almost 900 calories! I usually get the small size, which is still over 400 calories and always leaves me hungry an hour or so later.

I knew I could do better than that, so I came home and whipped up my own version. Mine uses thick, creamy Greek yogurt in place of the heavy cream used by Noodles and Company. I also added some plump shrimp to help up the protein factor without adding a lot of calories. More protein means this dish keeps me full for a lot longer than the Noodles and Company version.Β And it clocks in at a light and healthy 375 calories per serving (which is a similar size to theΒ restaurantΒ regular portion). Plus a whopping 20 grams of protein per plateful!

Babyface said this was his favorite pasta dish I’ve ever made (and I’ve made quite a few). I take that as high praise!

Oh, and the best part? Start to finish: ready in 15 minutes. Yeah. You need to make this.

Penne Rosa with Shrimp

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 6 servings




  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 10 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Cook penne according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.
  3. Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to release their water.
  4. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the penne, Greek yogurt and pasta sauce. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese.
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  1. Jen in MN says

    Thanks! This is perfect for me right now – I’m hugely pregnant so in a major cooking/dinner rut, but this looks easy enough even for me at the moment (-: And nice & springy too! Just perfect. I am so sick of soups, stews, and heavy foods right now!

  2. says

    I love subbing in Greek yogurt for sour cream, mayo, or cream – it’s got such a great tangy creaminess. Great recipe – my husband loves Noodles & Co., I think he’d really enjoy this!

  3. says

    Oh yeah…I’ll listen to you for sure, and promptly make this! It sounds delicious and looks so pretty. I think the recipe will end up in my “feed the inlaws” pile, which needs to be delicous and easy. :)

  4. Kat says

    I used to be a GM at a Noodles & Company. This looks like a good recipe. My only suggestion is something that is done at the restaurant. When you throw the veggies in to saute throw the noodles in as well. When you saute the noodles as well you release some of the sugars in the pasta. Before you add the sauce, deglaze the pan with an ounce of white wine. When the wine is cooked off toss in an ounce of veggie broth until the noodles soak it up then add the sauce. Just giving you an insider tip on what the restaurant does!

  5. Rachel says

    I saw a great idea on another site–instead of wilting the spinach in the pan, just toss the fresh spinach in your strainer before you pour the boiling water and pasta into it. The hot water wilts the spinach, then you can toss it all in to the mix together and skip a step!

  6. says

    This looks excellent! I think I’m going to make a big pot of this with quinoa pasta (gluten free) and have the leftovers for my lunches for the next week. Can’t wait to try it!

  7. Bianca says

    I bet this would be great with chicken too! I’m allergic to shrimp so I would be making it with chicken.

  8. Shay says

    We made this tonight. Turned out really good! I added a 1/4 cup white wine and let simmer a bit right before the shrimp. I also added fresh basil along with the spinach. I like things spicy so i put some chili sauce in it as well. We’ll make it again…

  9. says

    I LOVE the penne rosa at Noodles & Co. I will totally be making this over the weekend.

    If you still go to Noodles & Co. during your lunch, you can order it with shrimp. That’s how I always do it to cut down on the calories a bit (I actually like it better with shrimp, the parmesan chicken to so salty).

  10. Mary says

    This was great – be careful not to heat too high after the yogurt is added or it will break down/curdle; I might also have skimmed some of the liquid before adding the sauce as it ended up a little thinner than I had hoped – but it was still fabulous!

  11. says

    I made this last night and it was awesome! I think that I might have added a little too much pepper, but it was amazing anyway and I will be making it again soon! :)

  12. Megan says

    My boyfriend made this for us last night (after I hinted via email that it looked good!) and let me tell you, it was amazing!!! We’ll be making it many more times :)

  13. says

    This looks good. I make a similar Penne Alla Vodka (I add vodka after the garlic though). I never thought to use yogurt in place of the half and half I usually use.

    • Nancy says

      I was hoping someone would suggest vodka. i LOVE vodka sauce but it is so unhealthy. I will be trying it this weekend.

  14. Gina says

    Just had this for dinner tonight! Was good… very close to the Noodles and Company dish, but just not as rich tasting. I wonder if this is from using the yogurt vs. cream? I also took Kat’s advise, too from the 4/2/2012 comment. Thanks!

  15. Laney says

    I made this and it came out great!! I always order this at Noodles & Company, but I’m sure there’s is much more fattening. I love the greek yogurt idea. My boyfriend and I both hate mushy spinach though, so we just threw the fresh spinach in at the end and stirred it in with the sauce. It was perfect!

    • Cassie says

      The yogurt is what makes it yummy and creamy! I’d try plain soy yogurt instead. I’ve never tried it, but it might give you the same consistency.

  16. Lauren says

    Made this tonight for me and my mom! It turned out great and I will definitely be making again! I’m a pescatarian so i love finding new recipes that fit my lifestyle :)

  17. Marianne says

    I was disappointed by this one. Can’t put my finger on what it was missing, but it was very bland. I’ll play around with it to see if I can get it to be better because I love the concept!

  18. Alicia says

    I made this tonight (except I swapped the shrimp for eggplant) and it’s delicious. My husband loved it, and even moreso when I told him how healthy it was. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Jennifer says

    Made this with chicken tonight, it was great! Thanks! Prep and cook time for me was a little longer though.

  20. Sara says

    I was just wondering how much I would use if I substituted chicken instead of the shrimp? I’m just starting out learning and practicing how to cook different things. What exactly does minced mean? (for the cloves of garlic). Thank you so much and I look forward to making this dish!


    • Cassie says

      Minced means to chop in super tiny pieces. And I’d say one large chicken breast cooked and chopped would work. Good luck!

      • Sara says

        Thanks Cassie! I’m making it this Friday, so cross your fingers that it turns out well!

  21. Stephanie Henriet says

    Just made this tonight and I love this recipe! Simple ingredients and it’s as simple as tossing everything into a pan. Can’t get any better than that for a quick, delicious, yet low cal dinner!

    • Cassie says

      I don’t see why not! Just defrost it, then wring it out using a kitchen towel. Then just add it in at the same time in the recipe you’d add the fresh. :)

  22. Emily says

    I made this for dinner tonight and loved it. I like saucy pasta, though, so only used 8 ounces of pasta and kept the other proportions the same. At first I still thought there wasn’t quite enough sauce to go around, but it ended up being just right. Thanks!

  23. Amber says

    This may sound silly…but should the shrimp be thawed out or can it be frozen before throwing it in the pan?

    I am 9 months pregnant and can go at any time…I love how easy this sounds! Making it tonight!! I have been craving shrimp too!! :)

  24. Madelyn says

    Yum! Just made this and I am currently eating it right now. Delicious! I love creamy red sauce, but was always weary of using greek yogurt…for some reason. It worked great!

  25. Claire says

    My husband farms shrimp so we tried this recipe last night and it was great! It tasted really good but wasn’t too rich and heavy. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  26. Becca says

    This recipe looks awesome, but doesn’t work in practice…at least didn’t for me. The vegetables give off too much water, so the sauce ends up soggy. The yogurt curdles into clumps. Disappointing.

  27. says

    This recipe looked amazing! Unfortunatley I am allergic to shrimp…but I did create my own similar version of this tonight and my family loved it! Thanks for the idea!

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

    • Faith Thornton says

      I also am alergic to shrimp & meat; so, I used tofu & we it turned out great. Even my husband a true chicken eater loved it the tofu!! Thanks for this recipe!

      • Amina says

        The recipie turned out great. I like that we could season with salt to our own taste. Thank you so much for sharing.

  28. says

    Just made this dish tonight – easy to make, great flavor, and very robust! I can see how a dash of white wine in it would be good too. Or even putting in some bacon or sausage, depending on taste.

    • Jen c says

      Alec, I think bacon or sausage would totally ruin the point of this healthy, low fat meal.

      I’m making this for dinner right now!

      • Savannah says

        Maybe thats the point of YOUR meal Jen C. Perhaps Alec is more interested in the flavor aspect of his meals.

      • Cass says

        I made this the other night following the recipe exactly but also adding 2 chicken sausage links and it was SO good. I love me some pasta so I like trying to find ways to make hearty healthy sauces that make you eat less pasta and more protein & veggies. Thanks for the great recipe!!

      • Beth says

        I am going to try it with chicken and whole wheat pasta. I think some fresh basil would be good, too!

  29. Elle says

    Tried this for dinner tonight for the family and it was a HIT! Delicious, loved the flavours and creaminess of it, even where there was no cream! Thanks for sharing, everyone loved it, even my Mum who is not a huge fan of pasta.

    Quick query though – I noticed when I added the yogurt it split and gave the sauce a grainy appearance, and the sauce wasn’t as thick as I’d liked. Should I reduce the amount of marinara sauce or maybe de-seed the tomatoes before adding it?

    Still tasted amazing!

    • Cassie says

      If the yogurt curdles like that, just wait a few minutes after removing the sauce from the heat. Once it cools just a bit, the yogurt should stay all thick an creamy. Glad you liked it!

    • Sarah says

      Elle – I thought about your suggestion and went head and de-seeded my tomatoes – the consistency was just fine!

      What a fantastic recipe! I love this entree from Noodles & Co. and my husband loves spicy stuff so it was the perfect combination! Thanks for posting!

  30. jessica says

    I just made this for dinner tonigt and it was wonderfull! I am new to the cooking field and this was simple and easy to complete. My boyfriend who usually cooks every dinner loved this and was very surprised when there was a meal waiting for him when he go home from work. Thank you so much!

  31. says

    Did I miss it, I know you discuss the 900 calorie portion at Noodle co and the smaller version at 400 calories leaving you hungry… how many servings is in this recipe?

  32. Ann Marie says

    I LOVE this recipe. Made it first with chicken for my boyfriend who is allergic to shellfish and overshot the red pepper flakes but it was still amazing with extra kick. I also made it for my brother, sister in law and myself with the shrimp and everyone loves it. Thanks for this recipe. It was the first thing I think I ever pinned on Pinterest and still my favorite.

  33. says

    Just put the dishes from this meal in the dishwasher! What a delicious recipe! The penne rosa is always what I order at Noodles. Thanks so much for sharing! And by the way–thanks for representing the Midwest in such a positive way!

  34. Michelle says

    Found you via Pinterest and made this tonight. I believe this is going to go into regular rotation around here! I did make a few changes: I added a red onion (thinly sliced) and a yellow squash, in addition to the spinach and mushrooms. I also used a left over chicken breast instead of shrimp, as that is what I had. This is fantastic and I look forward to playing with the recipe a bit — perhaps sausage as suggested by a previous commenter. Thank you!

  35. Emily says

    This was really yummy! I subbed chicken instead of shrimp and made the mistake of using canned tomatoes instead of fresh which made it super watery (yikes!) I ended up salvaging it by removing a lot of the liquid before adding the greek yogurt and I ended up adding 1.5 cups of marinara sauce and a little extra greek yogurt and a TON of parmesan.. and it was AMAZING! Although probably not exactly as healthy as your version. Still lower cal and yummier than a restaurant though for sure! Next time I think I’ll half the recipe.. it made way more than I was expecting!

  36. Kim says

    Do you have to put in the spinach and mushrooms? I’m not a fan of either but if leaving them out takes away from the overall taste I will put them in :)

  37. April says

    This looks amazing! I’m not a shrimp fan, ate far too much of it as a kid, so i’m going to try it with chicken or fish. I’m really excited to try it. It’s nice to find healthy recipes that are filling.

  38. San Fangcisco says

    I made this last night….I was so delicious and everyone in my family loves it. Thank you do much for sharing the amazing recipe. Definitely will make it again soon…Yummm:)

  39. Dani says

    I just made this for the first time tonight, and it’s so delicious! Definitely putting it into our regular rotation! πŸ˜‰ My super picky 3 year old finished his before I even sat down!

  40. Jennifer says

    I used to work for Noodles, and they switched to half and half years ago to save on costs (of course, this was never passed on to the customer…). Also, broccoli is a good substitute if you’re not a mushroom fan. If you’re looking for the true flavor, add in cooking wine as well. If anyone else really likes the pesto cavatappi, simply substitute pesto for marinara and omit the crushed red pepper. Same deal.

    • Jamie says

      Do you know what kind of marinara Noodles uses? I have been trying to duplicate the Rosa sauce for a while now, but something is off.

  41. Barb says

    I found this on Pinterest, thanks for sharing! Very filling and lots of flavor. Added a few more pinches of red pepper flakes for spice. Easy & quick to make…will make again!

  42. Rachael says

    This is so yummy!! I added a pound of Italian sausage to this (so I added some more marinara and yogurt), and it was super tasty! I highly recommend this one!

  43. says

    lol, lol, you will never believe this. On my shopping trip I bought amongst other items all the main items needed in the above deliciously sinful pasta dish. I honestly do not know what made me, since half of them were NOT on my shoppinglist. And now, just before dinner time, I only saw your recipe. So, tomorrow………Thanks.Ciao Carina

  44. says

    This was great! I made this with Aleppo pepper instead of red pepper flakes, broccoli instead of mushrooms and some left over chicken instead of the shrimp. It’s a great base sauce that could be easily be adapted to include whatever veg, spice or meat you’ve got in the pantry/fridge, which makes it a perfect recipe in my eyes.

    The sauce was super creamy! The Greek yogurt is a great sub for heavy cream; this def doesn’t taste like a pasta dish made healthy.

    Thanks!! :)

  45. Brooke says

    Thanks for making a recipe that prints easily and nicely on one page! I know it’s a silly little thing, but it really matters to me. I look forward to trying this out.

  46. Michelle says

    YUMM! Just made this for dinner today, replaced the shrimp with chicken, and used spinach instead of mushrooms,super easy and even smelled delicious as I made it. WIl be making this again later this week.

  47. Jenna P says

    This turned out great! I made a half portion since I’m a college student that lives alone. Plenty of leftovers :) Used broccoli instead of mushrooms!

    Thanks for the quick, healthy and easy recipe

  48. Zar says

    Is there anything else I can substitute the greek yogurt with? Normal yogurt? As greek yogurt isn’t available where I am at the moment. Let me know thanks! Want to make this tonight!

    • Elyse says

      You might be able to find ‘labneh’ it’s the same thing. I live in West Africa and there are a lot Lebanese here and they eat labneh/Greek yogurt for breakfast (with olive oil and pita/Lebanese bread). If you have any middle eastern store or market you’ll find it. I suggest trying zaatar spice if you want to try the Lebanese breakfast!

    • Allee says

      Geek yogurt is just strained regular yogurt, so if you reeeallly wanted to you could just strain plain yogurt yourself. You can do it with a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or a very fine mesh strainer over a bowl or jar to catch the whey. Just search online for a how-to. I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle to you, but it’s pretty simple.

  49. Sarah F. says

    Thanks so much for this recipe! The flavor is amazing and I love that it is a healthy alternative to creamy pasta sauces. I just used the sauce recipe as a base without the shrimp since we didn’t have any and without the mushrooms and spinach because my husband doesn’t like them. We ended up eating all of the sauce (enough for 6) just with the two of us!

  50. Angel says

    My boyfriend is a fantastic chef, plus he’s Italian, so I was thrilled when he said he loved this tonight. The only change I made was chicken sausage in lieu of shimp. Thanks for an easy, healthy, hearty, delicious meal idea. I’ll be making this again.

  51. Summer says

    This recipe is amazing! I even left out the shrimp and parmesan, simply because I didn’t feel like running to the store. If it’s this good without them, I can only imagine how much better it’ll be when I do add them. Personally, the only thing I would do differently would be to add more mushrooms and tomatoes. I do love my veggies…

  52. Amy says

    This recipe didn’t work for us. It was bland and the sauce was pale and watery. The heat needs to be turned up when the mushrooms go in, long before the shrimp is added to allow some of the moisture to cook out.

  53. Diarra says

    I made this tonite it was extremely good. I added more spices and double the portions because I was cooking for a lot of people. But they all loved it. I would definitely make this again. I love Greek yogurt, but not the plain kind, so I was really surprised that the dish as a whole tasted so good. Will definitely make again with a few variations. I will probably add more veggies, since I left out the mushrooms. Just not a mushroom person. By the way I found this on Pinterest :)

  54. says

    Oh my this recipe is INCREDIBLE! We made this tonight and both hubby and I LOVED it! This is most definitely getting added to our recipe rotation :) Thanks for sharing!

  55. Lisa R says

    I didn’t follow the recipe. I’m not into Shrimp in pasta (personal choice) What caught my eye is adding Greek yogurt to sauce. I never heard of it. I knew about whipping cream, cheese and cream cheese but never yogurt. I added it to my homemade pasta sauce. Very good. I can’t believe I can make a rich creamy red sauce that is healthy. Thank you this is a great healthy alternative and you are getting protein from the yogurt.

  56. Carolyn says

    I made this last night using your recipe and it was delicious!! My husband doesn’t even like tomatoes or spinach and he loved this dish. Thank you :)

  57. Melissa says

    I made this tonight with a few substitutions and it was amazing! I used spaghetti squash instead of pasta and baby portabella instead of button mushrooms. I will absolutely make this again!

  58. Lisa says

    My family and I get this at Noodles & Company and absoluetly adore it. When I found this recipe my family was so excited and when I made it l, I had to make more because they ate so much!

  59. says

    I’m wondering if this is something that can be prepped a night before and then re-heated? I’m part of a game night ladies group and I want to make this for them, however I need to do it the night before since I don’t have the spare time between work and the evening festivities.

    • Cassie says

      I think so! We eat it as leftovers pretty frequently. It does tend to get a touch dry, so you might want to try adding a bit more marinara sauce to the mix just so it stays saucy. Good luck, let me know how it turns out!

  60. Brenda says

    I just made this exactly the same way EXCEPT I used light sour cream because I forgot Greek yogurt and it was DELICIOUS! My husband even liked it! So good, so easy, so healthy. Thank you.

  61. Krystal says

    I made this a few nights ago and it had a very unpleasent odor that stuck to me for about a week. My family told me that they could taste the yogurt and that it wasn’t very good and that the pasta also needed more sauce. The recipe at Noodles &Co. in my opinion is much spicier and better than this recipe.

  62. Allee says

    I made this with curly kale instead of spinach and it was really good! Sometimes I think wilted spinach can get a little slimey and weird, but the kale had a really nice tender crunch to it and added a little more bulk to the dish. Also, I would recommend using a really good quality whole wheat pasta because some brands have a wonky texture.

  63. Jordan says

    I followed the recipe exactly, and it ended up tasting quite bland. It’s missing something that Noodles puts in it, but I’m not quite sure what it is. I even added seasoning, but it still didn’t taste the same.

  64. So Good!! says

    I love this sauce so much that this recipe has become a staple in our house! I love that it has spinach and greek yogurt snuck in. I usually tweak the recipe a little bit as I don’t like shrimp or mushrooms and add more red pepper flakes to get it a little spicier. I like what another commenter said about putting broccoli in the sauce instead of mushrooms, I’ll have to try that next time. I’ve made this with gnocchi and it was good too. I also want to try the sauce over baked chicken. Yumm thank you for this brilliance!

  65. Rose says

    Hi! Just went to the store and am getting ready to whip this up. Now looking at the pic, I am missing spinach! I just copied the ingediants from the recipe. It looks like you forgot to have it in there – you might want to add it for folks in the future :-) Can’t wait to try it!!!

  66. Nelly says

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I do not like shrimp, so I opted for rotisserie chicken breast from Costco instead. It was good, but I will definitely have to try the chicken sausage!

  67. Lisa says

    This was delicious! My husband and I both enjoyed it and can’t believe how few calories are packed into so much pasta. It’s been added to our list! Thanks for sharing!

  68. Hadley says

    This was absolutely delicious! I was worried about experimenting with greek yogurt since it is so tart but you would never be able to tell it had yogurt in it. The yogurt was an excellent substitute for the cream–so many less calories and much more nutritious! My mom eats like a bird and she ate more than I did! She even had seconds which is a very rare ocassion! I can’t wait to make it again!

    • Stephanie says

      I thank you for your comment. I am usually worried about using greek yogurt as a substitute but your comment has me pretty excited to try this recipe. :-)

  69. Kerri says

    This dish is sooo satisfying and tasty! I was really worried about trying the greek yogurt in cooking (not the biggest fan), but I tried anyway. And I am so glad that I did. It didn’t take long to put this dish together and I added a little extra spinach. Perfect, definitely going to have this again soon! Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  70. casey says

    I love the penne rosa from noodles and comp!
    Thank you for the healthy makeover recipe.
    Any suggestions for more veggies to add in?

  71. Lexy says

    I tried this for me and my boyfriend last night and we both loved it. I left the mushrooms off because he’s a mushroom hater but I might use them next time and just tell him to pick around! I also didn’t have any red pepper flakes so I just used some paprika. It turned out so tasty!

  72. B says

    wondering if this could be turned into a penne vodka. Obviously vokda takes away some of the health factor but wondering if it would be weird with the yogurt.

  73. ili says

    Hi is this recipe supposed to be watery or dry? The shrooms and shrimp release a lot of water so I don’t know?? The picture looks like it goes dry

  74. says

    I omitted the shrimp and used tortellini instead. So good!! Arugula would be a great alternative to the spinach too. This one is a keeper!!

  75. Melissa says

    Hi there, I was just wondering if you know the nutritional value of this dish if I don’t put shrimp in it? Thanks in advance!

  76. Jennifer says

    I don’t usually comment, but I had to on this one.. It is by far my favourite recipe found to date. I have a hubby who isn’t usually fond of healthy eating (likes white bread and pasta vs whole grain, disposes non fat dairy products, etc.) and a son who’s finicky about veggies. Both of them gobbled it up! I made it again for guests, and everyone including the picky kids ate it and loved it (kids don’t lie to spare your feelings). I highly recommend :)

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