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. 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.

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