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This Penne Rosa recipe has tender pasta and plenty of veggies tucked into a creamy sauce with just a little kick. It’s a delicious copycat of the popular Noodles & Company dish that is super easy to make at home for a quick dinner any night of the week.

Close up of penne rosa in a deep cast iron skillet.

Easy Penne Rosa From Scratch

We love a good Noodles & Company copycat recipe around here, and penne rosa is a fan favorite that’s oh so easy to whip up yourself from simple ingredients and enjoy at home! It’s a classic dish with al dente pasta, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, tomatoes, and spinach all coated in a silky tomato cream sauce with just a hint of peppery kick.

It’s also terrifically quick and easy to make:

  • One skillet, lots of flavor. The sauce comes together all in one skillet, and cooking everything together means no extra dishes, and no flavor left behind.
  • Super fast. This takes just about 25 minutes start to finish. You can do things like chop the tomatoes after starting the sauce, so you barely need to prep in advance.
  • Easy to adjust to taste. Penne rosa is known for having a little heat, and it’s easy to dial that up or down when you make it at home simply by adding more or less red pepper to the sauce.

Many other recipes for penne rosa call for jarred marinara sauce, which totally has its place, but I wanted to make a version more from scratch. This version of penne rosa is based on a super simple creamy tomato pasta my whole family has loved for years. It uses tomato sauce, tomato paste, and a smidge of cream. I believe it’s the perfect base to make this slightly spicy tomato cream sauce deliciously from scratch!

Small serving bowl filled with a helping of penne Rosa, a Noodles & Co. copycat recipe, garnished with extra Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Serving Suggestions

Pair penne rosa with an Italian salad or an arugula salad for a delicious light meal. Want to add another veggie straight into the mix? Steamed peas are easy and fit seamlessly into the sauce. Garlic bread or breadsticks never hurt on the side!

Craving more protein? Serve this alongside some simple Italian dressing chicken if you want it to bake in the oven, or oregano chicken if you don’t mind having another skillet to juggle. Mini meatballs or steak would also be tasty.

Ingredient & Substitution Notes

Labeled overhead photo of penne, sliced mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, baby spinach, butter, broth, tomato paste and sauce, minced garlic, cream, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, all measured into prep bowls and ready to cook.

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need. Find full amounts in the print-friendly recipe card below.

  • Penne pasta or another shape. I do like this best with medium-long, tubular pasta shapes, like rotini, rigatoni, or ziti, but that is just personal preference and habit. Bowties or shells would also be great.
  • Sliced mushrooms. Baby Bella (aka cremini) or white mushrooms are wonderful, but really any variety you like will do the trick. You can buy pre-sliced for convenience; I usually do in this stage of my life!
  • Roma tomatoes. Tomatoes on-the-vine, cherry tomatoes, or grape tomatoes all work well instead.
  • Baby spinach. Wilts easily into the sauce for some green veggie action.
  • Tomato sauce and tomato paste. These are the base of the sauce. If you’re in a bind and don’t have tomato paste, that’s OK, just leave it out. It only adds a little extra concentrated tomato flavor and thickening. You can thicken the sauce extra if you choose to by letting it simmer an extra minute before adding the cream.
  • Fresh garlic. Freshly minced garlic just adds so much sizzle to a light sauce like this.
  • Chicken broth or vegetable broth. Obviously choose vegetable broth or stock if you want to keep this vegetarian.
  • Dried Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  • Butter. You can substitute olive oil, I just prefer the flavor of mushrooms browned in butter.
  • Cream. A little goes a long way to enrich the sauce. Heavy cream or light cream work well. Half and half is a good substitute but will not thicken the sauce quite as much.
  • Parmesan cheese. The perfect finishing touch. Fresh basil is also lovely if you have some on hand.

How To Make Penne Rosa at Home

Making your own penne rosa is super quick and easy. Doing things in the right order makes all the difference to ensuring everything is the right texture and the overall dish has maximum flavor.

  1. Cook pasta in well-salted water to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Brown mushrooms in a deep skillet, then transfer those to a plate so they don’t get too soggy.
  3. Make the rosa sauce in the same skillet. Let simmer to thicken slightly.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach, and return mushrooms to the skillet. These will all warm through quickly.
  5. Lastly, stir in the drained pasta and garnish generously with Parmesan. Dig in!

Pro Tip

Use medium or medium-low heat after adding cream to a sauce! Higher temperatures can easily overcook a cream sauce, altering the proteins and causing the sauce to visibly separate. The best way to guard against this is allowing the clear sauce to thicken first, then reducing the heat slightly just before adding the cream. The residual heat will be plenty to warm all remaining ingredients.


  • Use gluten-free pasta to make the whole dish gluten-free.
  • Use whole wheat pasta for extra protein and fiber.
  • Swap the pasta for zucchini noodles. Add these raw right into the prepared sauce; the residual heat will tenderize them a bit but still leave a little bite. Pair this variation with chicken for a delicious low-carb meal.
  • Toss in extra veggies to add nutrition and clean out the fridge. Onion, bell pepper, or summer squash all work well. Sauté these right after transferring out the mushrooms, then leave them to simmer with the sauce.
  • Add white beans or chickpeas for more plant-based protein.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or capers for even more bold flavor.
Cast iron skillet filled with a homemade penne rosa garnished with Parmesan.

Storage & Reheating

  • Storage: Leftover penne rosa keeps very well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Store in your favorite prep boxes for individual portions, or stash a larger amount in a big airtight container or directly in the skillet for ease.
  • Reheating: Warm individual portions in the microwave or over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Add a splash of broth or water to help loosen the sauce and minimize sticking, only if needed.

I haven’t tried freezing this but it would not be my first choice, because even light cream sauces are prone to separate when frozen and thawed. I will update with details if I do try freezing a portion of this in the future!

Related Recipes

Our other favorite Noodles & Company copycat dish is this delicious pesto cavatappi. Just like at the restaurant, it’s terrific with either chicken or shrimp, or left veggie for a meatless meal that still has tons of flavor.

Enjoy simple, easy pasta dishes? You’ll also love my lemon chicken pasta, lemon broccoli pasta, skillet baked ziti, and brown butter bacon tortellini. All tried and true family favorites!

If you try this Penne Rosa recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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5 from 5 votes

Penne Rosa

Tender pasta and plenty of veggies tucked into a creamy tomato sauce with just a little kick. It’s a delicious copycat of the popular Noodles & Company dish that is super easy to make at home for a quick dinner any night of the week.


  • 8 ounces penne or another pasta shape
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 6-8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4-1/2 crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Parmesan for serving


  • Boil a large pot of water. Add a generous pinch of salt, followed by the pasta, and cook to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
    8 ounces penne
  • While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender and well-browned. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds more, just until fragrant. Transfer mushrooms to a plate and set aside. (It’s fine if some of the garlic comes with the mushrooms and some stays in the skillet.)
    2 Tablespoons butter, 6-8 ounces sliced mushrooms, 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, broth, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Stir into a smooth sauce and let simmer for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and stir in the cream. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until it’s as thick as you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I start with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 8-10 cranks pepper.)
    1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce, 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4-1/2 crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup cream, kosher salt and black pepper
  • Stir chopped tomatoes and baby spinach into the sauce, followed by the mushrooms and any juices from the plate.
    2 Roma tomatoes, 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Add drained pasta, toss well, and serve with generous sprinkles of Parmesan.


  • Heat Level: 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes will be very mild. If you want the kick of penne rosa at Noodles & Company, begin with 1/2 teaspoon red pepper and add more to taste.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 341 kcal, Carbohydrates: 48 g, Protein: 11 g, Fat: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 7 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0.2 g, Cholesterol: 32 mg, Sodium: 241 mg, Potassium: 531 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g, Vitamin A: 2189 IU, Vitamin C: 12 mg, Calcium: 53 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!