penne rosa with shrimp

Posted on Mar 20, 2012 in Food

Penne 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. 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. This looks so yummy! The Greek yogurt sounds like a great substitute for cream. I’ll definitely give that trick a try!

  3. 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!

  4. This is genius. Can’t wait to try it! I love the simplicity of it all.

  5. 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. :)

  6. This looks awesome ~ I can’t wait to try it!

  7. 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!

    • Good to know! This may be a dumb question but you cook the noodles first and then throw them in to saute?

      • I would say cook the noodles but not a the way- maybe half way

    • Kat, thanks for the tips, I can see where the recipe is fine the way that it is but you give us just that little extra.

  8. Making this tonight! It looks awesome.

  9. 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!

    • It saves a step, but it may reduce the amount of nutrients you get from the spinach too.

  10. 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!

    • I tried it with corn penne pasta to make it gluten free and it was delish!

  11. I just made this and it is just as yummy as it sounds! Thanks for posting!

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

  13. I made this and it was so yummy! Thanks!

  14. I think I’ll make this without any meat for my vegetarian daughter. I’ll just add extra veggies.

  15. 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…

  16. 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).

  17. 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!

  18. Greek Yogurt ROCKS!!! As does Skim evaporated milk:)

  19. 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! :)

  20. I can’t get down with mushrooms. Any substitution ideas?

    • I think it’d work to just leave them out. :)

  21. 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 :)

  22. Hi – This looks yummy. I’m going to make it tomorrow.

  23. 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.

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

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

  26. would this work without the sour cream?

    • 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.

  27. ** I meant to say yogurt. So that it would be dairy free

  28. 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 :)

  29. LOVE this recipe–quick and simple with fresh ingredients! That’s what I’m all about!

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

    • Hi I’m a vegetarian and the eggplant sounds delish, how did u cook it before adding to pasta?

  32. I tried this last night, and LOVED it! Will definitely be making again. Thanks for the great recipe!

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

  34. This sounds amazing. I just discovered your blog via Pinterest – love it already1

  35. 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!


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

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

  36. just made this so yummy! thanks for the great recipe!

  37. 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!

  38. Relly goo & really easy, we had all these ingredients on hand! Thanks for sharing.

  39. Which brand of marina sauce did you use?

    • I use Kroger’s Private Selection Organic marinara.

  40. What kind of marina sauce is best?

  41. Many thanks for posting this. Looks DELISH! Trying it tonight!

  42. Hi this sounds like a great recipe, I have one question can I use frozen spinach??

    • 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. :)

  43. 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!

  44. This sounds amazing!! I am heading to the market to grab the ingredients right now! Can’t wait! Thank you for sharing!

  45. I made this for dinner earlier this week and it is hands down one of the BEST pasta dishes I have ever had. It has great flavor and was so easy! Thanks so much for sharing!

  46. 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!! :)

    • Thawed. :) Frozen shrimp wont defrost/cook in that short amount of time.

  47. 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!

  48. 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!

  49. This was amazing!! Thanks for the post.

  50. 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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