Al dente pasta tossed in a spiced tomato cream sauce with fresh tomatoes and spinach. This Copycat Noodles and Company Penne Rosa recipe will have you skipping takeout to make it at home.
Why This Recipe Works
There’s no need to leave the house to enjoy this recipe, penne rosa is a delicious pasta dish any level cook can recreate at home! It’s made with easy-to-find ingredients and cooks up in less than an hour.
Penne rosa is an entire meal in a bowl but I love to serve it up with a loaf of crusty bread or even a salad for dinner. It pairs great with simple roasted asparagus or this fresh salad with cucumber and radish.
A scrumptious dish for easy weeknight dinners, but also perfect for special occasions such as Valentine's Day or date night with your favorite person!
What Is Penne Rosa?
Penne Rosa pasta is a dish served at a restaurant called Noodles and Company. The dish consists of penne pasta tossed in a spicy tomato cream sauce, fresh tomatoes and spinach, mushrooms, and parmesan crusted chicken. To die for.
I have been making an at-home version of this pasta signature dish ever since I was a newlywed. My penne rosa copycat has been a lazy Sunday afternoon staple for years and years and years. I adore how fast and easy this dish is to whip up, and for me, it is the ultimate comfort food.
About the Ingredients
For this homemade version of penne with rosa sauce, you will need simple ingredients you can easily pick up on a trip to the grocery store.
- Penne pasta: The original Noodle and Company Penne Rosa recipe is made with this pasta shape, but you can certainly make pasta rosa with any short pasta. Short noodles work best because they make it easier to get a little bit of all the ingredients in each bite.
- Chicken breasts: Choose skinless, boneless chicken breasts to save some time and just make things easier.
- Fresh garlic: For the best flavor, I really recommend making penne rosa noodles with fresh garlic.
- Tomatoes: We use fresh tomatoes but you can also save some time by using canned diced tomatoes.
- Fresh spinach: Use baby spinach for an easy, no additional work needed ingredient.
- Jarred marinara sauce: Using your favorite store-bought marinara or tomato sauce for pasta makes this dish easier to prepare.
- Heavy cream: For the creamiest consistency and best flavor, use heavy cream for the creamy tomato sauce that makes this dish so tasty!
The complete list of ingredients and quantities is in the recipe card.
How to Make Pasta Rosa Recipe At Home
This is a semi-homemade recipe and doesn't require lots of skill or a pantry full of special spices or ingredients. It is a solid, basic, make any day of the week meal that I promise will please your tummy!
Let me give you the rundown on how to make the best penne rosa recipe!
Step 1: Start by boiling some water and cooking 16 ounces of penne pasta according to the package directions. When it’s ready, drain it and set it aside until you are ready to mix it into the dish.
Step 2: Using shallow bowls, combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan in one, and an egg in the other. Give the egg a quick scramble.
Step 3: Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture and coat both sides.
Step 4: Immediately dip the chicken into the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture and coat both sides. Repeat for both chicken breasts.
Step 5: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
Step 6: Once the oil is heated, add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken on one side until you can easily lift it to turn without it sticking to the pan.
Step 7: Flip your chicken and cook the opposite side until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a plate to rest. If you'd like to keep it warm, place the cooked breasts on a baking tray and into an oven set to 200 degrees.
Step 8: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and minced garlic to the pan you used to cook the chicken. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Step 9: Add the chicken broth to the skillet and deglaze the bottom by using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom.
Step 10: Add the diced tomatoes and cook for one minute.
Step 11: Add the jarred marinara sauce to your skillet.
Step 12: Toss in the crushed red pepper. Stir to combine and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
Step 13: Pour in the heavy whipping cream and stir to mix everything together.
Step 14: Add the spinach and mushrooms.
Step 15: And finally, toss in the cooked penne pasta.
Step 16: Mix everything together until well combined and heated through. Serve with the parmesan chicken on top and grated Parmesan cheese.
Storage and Reheating
Refrigerator: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Freezer: Freezing pasta isn’t recommended because the freezer changes the consistency of the pasta when it is thawed making it mushy.
Reheat: You can use the microwave or stovetop to reheat penne rosa. Whichever method you choose, you may need to add a little additional liquid to thin it out slightly. Add a tablespoon or two of chicken broth, milk or water will work.
When boiling the pasta cook until al dente and not a moment longer. Al dente pasta still has a little bit of bite to it and isn’t completely soft. The pasta will continue cooking in the skillet with all the other ingredients and you don’t want it to turn out too soft.
Don’t like it spicy? Or like it super spicy? There’s just a small amount of red pepper flakes added which makes the sauce a bit zesty. Penne rosa will taste amazing with or without it so feel free to adjust to your liking.
Don’t substitute the heavy cream with half and half or regular milk, as it’s what really gives the sauce its creamy texture and flavor.
One rule to follow when cooking your chicken is to resist the urge to be flip happy. DO NOT. I repeat. Do not flip your chicken a gazillion times. You want to cook each side only once. The chicken will naturally release from the pan when it is done cooking - so you shouldn't have to scrape it out of your frying pan at all. So if you try to lift it and it is stuck, let it continue to cook.
Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken. The chicken is fully cooked and ready to eat when it registers 165 in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions I get asked about this recipe.
Yes, to make it vegetarian simply swap the chicken broth with vegetable broth. and eliminate the chicken. To make it vegan, swap out the heavy cream with canned coconut milk for a similar creamy texture or make the sauce with only marinara, and use vegan parmesan cheese as a garnish on top.
You can also add more vegetables, chickpeas or tofu to the recipe to make it heartier when opting for a plant-based version of penne rosa.
In most instances, it's because you are trying to flip the chicken too early. The chicken will naturally release from the pan when it is done cooking - so you shouldn't have to scrape it out of your frying pan at all. So if you try to lift it and it is stuck, let it continue to cook.
Rosa sauce or pink sauce is a blend of marinara sauce and heavy cream which makes the color pink. Vodka sauce looks similar in color but is slightly different in how it’s prepared. If you are looking for a way to save time you can replace the jarred marina sauce and heavy cream by using a storebought vodka sauce.
No. While I wish I had their secret recipe, this is my best stab at it. Many have tried this recipe and find it to be pretty darn similar.
Of course! Feta adds a nice creamy touch to this dish in place of the parmesan!
More Easy Dinner Recipes and Ideas
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Penne Rosa – Noodles & Company Copycat
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 24 ounces jar of marinara sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes adjust depending on how spicy you like it
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces can sliced mushrooms drained or ½ cup fresh (optional)
- 3 small tomatoes diced
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 16 ounces penne pasta
- grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- Using shallow bowls, combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan in one, and an egg in the other. Give the egg a quick scramble.
- Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture and coat both sides.
- Immediately dip the chicken into the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture and coat both side. Repeat for both chicken breasts.
- Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is heated, add your chicken breasts and cook until they no longer stick to the pan.
- Flip your chicken and cook the opposite side until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken from the pan and place on a plate to rest. If you'd like to keep it warm - you and place the cooked breasts on a baking tray and rest in an oven set to 200 degrees.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan along with minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add chicken broth to the skillet and deglaze the bottom by using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom.
- Toss in diced tomatoes and cook for one minute.
- Add jarred marinara sauce to your skillet.
- Toss in crushed red pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 10 minutes.
- Pour in heavy whipping cream. Stir to combine.
- Add spinach and mushrooms.
- Toss in cooked penne pasta. Toss to combine and add grilled chicken to the top.