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The Blue & Gray Press | January 16, 2019

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Res Hall Recipes: Spicy tomato cream pasta sauce

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As a student on a budget, I am always looking for a new way to save money while still getting a good meal. My love of ordering take-out is not always affordable, but I still want to get my fix of restaurant quality food. This copycat recipe for Noodles and Company’s Penne Rosa pasta tossed in a spicy tomato cream sauce filled with tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach has become a favorite of mine.

It is so close to the real thing, you might not even know the difference. Adding a piece of grilled or Parmesan crusted chicken can take this recipe the extra mile, adding even more flavor, as well as some protein. Everything can be tailored to your own taste.

If you prefer less spicy dishes, add less crushed red pepper, or you can set your mouth on fire with a little extra if that is what you like. Don’t like mushrooms? Leave them out! What is even better is how simple it is to make. As far as dishes go, you just need a pot to make the pasta in, a saucepan to make your sauce and a spoon to toss it all together! It only takes about five minutes of prep time and 15 minutes to cook, and this recipe produces around five servings – a week’s worth of leftovers!



2 tbsp olive oil

1 box penne pasta

1 jar of marinara sauce

¾ cup of heavy (whipping) cream – found near coffee creamers and milk products

1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

Grated Parmesan cheese


Optional Additions: These are all found in the original dish, but if they are not for you it is okay not to add them!

1 cup raw baby spinach

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved and seasoned with a little salt and pepper

1 cup mushrooms



  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.
  2. Add mushrooms and tomatoes. Sautee until tomatoes are blistering and mushrooms are cooked through.
  3. Add marinara sauce and crushed red pepper to mushrooms and tomatoes and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add entire box of pasta and cook as directed. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Add heavy cream and baby spinach to the tomato, mushroom and sauce combination. Allow to simmer an additional two minutes.
  6. Remove sauce from heat, add in pasta and toss. Pasta should be coated in the sauce, not drowning in it!
  7. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.