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. And it clocks in at a light and healthy 375 calories per serving (which is a similar size to the restaurant 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. 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. :-)

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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!!

  8. 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!

  9. 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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