Penne Rosa

Penne Rosa

Penne Rosa is a vibrant and flavorful dish that has captured the hearts of pasta enthusiasts worldwide. Originating from the kitchens of Noodles & Company, this unique pasta dish blends Italian culinary traditions with a contemporary twist, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that delight the palate.

Ingredients and Preparation

At its core, Penne Rosa features penne pasta, a classic Italian noodle known for its cylindrical shape and ridged texture, which adeptly holds onto sauces. The dish is defined by its rich and creamy tomato-based sauce, which combines the zest of marinara with the creaminess of alfredo, resulting in a delightful pink hue that gives the dish its name.

Key ingredients typically include:

  • Penne pasta: The foundation of the dish, providing a robust texture that pairs well with the sauce.
  • Tomato sauce: Often a blend of marinara and a touch of cream to achieve the characteristic rosa color and flavor.
  • Fresh vegetables: Commonly includes mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach, adding layers of flavor and nutritional value.
  • Garlic and spices: Essential for seasoning, offering depth and a burst of aromatic flavors.
  • Parmesan cheese: Finely grated to top the dish, adding a salty and umami finish.

Cooking Method

To prepare Penne Rosa, start by cooking the penne pasta until it reaches an al dente texture. Meanwhile, sauté fresh garlic and onions in olive oil until fragrant. Add sliced mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and spinach, allowing them to cook down and release their flavors. Next, incorporate a generous amount of marinara sauce, followed by a splash of cream to achieve the rosa color. Simmer the sauce until it thickens slightly, and then combine it with the cooked pasta. Finish by sprinkling freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a handful of basil leaves for garnish.

Nutritional Benefits

Penne Rosa is not only delicious but also offers several nutritional benefits. The inclusion of fresh vegetables provides essential vitamins and minerals, while the tomato-based sauce offers a good dose of antioxidants like lycopene. Opting for whole grain penne can enhance the fiber content, making the dish a more balanced and health-conscious choice. Additionally, the dish can be easily customized to meet various dietary needs, such as substituting the cream with a dairy-free alternative for a vegan version or adding grilled chicken or shrimp for extra protein.

Versatility and Pairings

One of the standout features of Penne Rosa is its versatility. It can be served as a main course or a side dish and pairs wonderfully with a variety of accompaniments. For a well-rounded meal, consider serving Penne Rosa with a crisp Caesar salad, garlic bread, or a side of steamed vegetables. A glass of chilled white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, complements the creamy and tangy flavors of the dish beautifully.

Popularity and Variations

Penne Rosa has become a staple in many households and restaurants due to its simple yet sophisticated flavor profile. While the original recipe from Noodles & Company remains a favorite, many chefs and home cooks have put their spin on the dish, experimenting with different ingredients and techniques. Some popular variations include adding spicy Italian sausage for a kick, incorporating roasted red peppers for sweetness, or using a vodka sauce base for a richer flavor.


Penne Rosa is a delightful pasta dish that brings together the best of Italian culinary traditions with modern-day creativity. Its creamy, tomato-infused sauce, combined with the hearty texture of penne pasta and the freshness of vibrant vegetables, makes it a crowd-pleaser for any occasion. Whether you’re preparing it for a family dinner, a casual get-together with friends, or simply treating yourself to a comforting meal, Penne Rosa promises a delicious and satisfying experience.

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