This quick and easy Penne Rosa pasta dish comes together in just 20 minutes with only 10 ingredients. Al dente penne pasta is tossed in a light tomato cream sauce with fresh baby spinach, then garnished with grated Parmesan, and red pepper flakes for a little kick!
Salt pasta water. I recommend adding 2-4 tablespoons of Kosher salt to the pot of boiling water before adding the uncooked pasta. This is your first chance to season the pasta and it will make a HUGE difference in the overall flavor of the dish.
Cook noodles just until al dente and not a moment longer. If the recommended cooking time is 9-11 minutes, I set my timer for 8 minutes and then start carefully tasting the pasta until it is tender and cooked through, but still has a toothsome bite.
Toss cooked noodles in olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is going to help prevent the noodles from sticking together and it also adds a little extra flavor to the dish.
You might be wondering where the spice is?!? If you’re familiar with Noodles & Company’s version of this dish, you know that their version has a little kick of heat. While my husband LOVES spicy food, my daughter and I are total wimps. So I chose to leave the spice out of this recipe to make it more family-friendly. My husband likes to add red pepper flakes or a couple pinches of cayenne pepper to his plate to make a little spicier. If your whole family likes it spicy, feel free to add red pepper flakes or cayenne to the whole dish – otherwise, just serve it on the side and let everyone add their own!
If you want to bulk this up a bit with more veggies, sauteed mushrooms and diced tomatoes would be a great addition. The original version served at Noodles & Company includes both of those, but I chose to keep this recipe simple with just fresh spinach.
Sliced grilled chicken or cooked crumbled sausage would both be great additions to this dish if you’re not looking for a vegetarian dinner. Spicy turkey sausage is one of our family’s favorite things to add. It’s got just enough spice for my husband, but not too much for me!
Keywords: penne rosa sauce recipe, tomato cream sauce, creamy tomato pasta