Now that back to school is in full swing, I am reminiscing on my most recent school days at Illinois State University and my love for my favorite fast casual meal…Penne Rosa! I have a bunch of cousins, as well as my little brother looking at colleges right now, along with being a new alumni board member, that it’s been jogging my memories of my ol’ college days.
The hero of college: MY METABOLISM. I miss being able to just go all out on a bowl of whatever and still be my fit self. Pasta was always the name of the game for me in college. The go-to? Noodles and Company. Yep – there was one right by our campus and we’d skeddadle over there for a big bowl of pad thai, pesto, or my favorite, Penne Rosa.
Sometimes I still crave it, and I’ll go in. I feel like no one is quick to say they love Noodles & Company, yet every time I go, the line is out the door.
But with my metabolism now at a more appropriate level for a near-30 year old, I have taken things into my own hands to create a *very easy and low cal* take on an old favorite that mimics the same glory as my favorite Penne Rosa dish.
I love this recipe because it can be so versatile. There’s been many nights where I didn’t know what to make and I had all the ingredients for this dish. It captures simplicity, which still creating an awesome meal for any day of the week.
Here are a few tips I have before you go right into this recipe:
– Use your favorite vodka sauce – Mine is Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce or Primal Kitchen’s Vodka Sauce!
– Add extra veggies or protein to mix it up!
– Use a different noodle – Penne is the go-to for this dish, but rotini or any other pasta that can hold onto sauce is best.
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 10 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 jar of vodka sauce (I use Trader Joe’s!) – you can also use 28 oz of crush tomatoes + 3-4 tbsp of heavy whipping cream, if you want to do this from scratch.
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flake (to taste)
- Get your pot of water on heat to get it boiling! You’ll do this to save time so that your pasta is ready when your vegetables are.
- Saute your mushrooms, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Make it as spicy as you want!
- Once your water is brought to a boil, cook your pasta until tender.
- Once pasta is about done, add your vodka sauce (or crush tomatoes + heavy whipping cream) to your onions and mushrooms. Let it simmer until bubbly.
- Add your spinach to your sauce, and then add your cooked pasta and combine.
- Serve pasta with fresh parmesan cheese or some amazing breaded chicken cutlets!