Penne-ful Of Possibilities: Dinner Ideas For Every Craving

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Penne pasta, those delightful little tubes, is a pantry staple for a reason. It’s versatile, affordable, and cooks up in a flash. But sometimes, the “what-to-make-with-penne” question can leave you staring blankly at the cupboard. Fear not, fellow pasta enthusiast! This guide is packed with penne dinner ideas that are as easy on your brain as they are on your wallet.

Classic Comfort: Marinara Magic

Yummy Penne Pasta Recipes
Yummy Penne Pasta Recipes

This one’s a crowd-pleaser, perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Ingredients:

1 pound penne pasta

  • 1 (28-ounce) jar your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  • Directions:

    1. Cook the penne according to package directions, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the marinara sauce, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Add the drained penne and reserved pasta water to the sauce. Toss to combine, letting the pasta cook for another minute or two, until heated through and the sauce coats the pasta.
    4. Serve hot, topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving):

    Calories: Around 450 (depending on the marinara sauce)

  • Fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 60g
  • Protein: 20g

  • Tips:

    Add chopped veggies like spinach, bell peppers, or mushrooms to the sauce for extra nutrients and flavor.

  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • Creamy Dream: Penne Alfredo

    This rich and decadent dish is perfect for a special occasion or a cozy night in.

    Ingredients:

    1 pound penne pasta

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Cook the penne according to package directions.
    2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
    3. Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until smooth and thickened. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
    4. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Add the drained penne to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving):

    Calories: Around 700 (depending on the cheese)

  • Fat: 40g
  • Carbohydrates: 70g
  • Protein: 30g

  • Tips:

    For a lighter version, use low-fat milk and cheeses.

  • Add cooked diced chicken, shrimp, or broccoli for a protein boost.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However, the sauce may separate, so be sure to reheat gently until smooth.

  • Garden Delight: Penne Primavera

    This veggie-packed dish is a healthy and flavorful option.

    Ingredients:

    1 pound penne pasta

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets (or other vegetables of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Cook the penne according to package directions.
    2. While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.