Penne for Your Thoughts?

whole_wheat_penne,_cooked_and_uncookedLast week, I was casting about for something quick, easy, and a bit different for supper — and something that I could make with ingredients I had on hand, as I didn’t want to have to head out to the store.

That’s when I found inspiration from a recipe on a tin of Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes, no-salt-added, seasoned with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano. The recipe was for Spinach Walnut Penne. Me being me, I used this recipe as a springboard to create a dish better suited to our tastes and what we had on hand, and so I came up with Spinach and Walnut One-Pan Pasta.

The Hunt’s recipe calls for multi grain penne pasta.  I haven’t developed a taste for multi grain pasta. Also, alas, I didn’t have any penne pasta on hand. So I substituted elbow macaroni instead.

In lieu of the fresh spinach called for, I used a package of frozen spinach. I also added in some diced onion. If you have the time and would like, you can easily add in other vegetables, as well, such as minced carrot, diced celery, sliced mushrooms, sliced or diced zucchini, diced eggplant (be sure to lightly salt and drain the eggplant first!) — whatever floats your boat!

Toasting the walnuts before adding them to the dish gives an extra boost of flavor.


This smells and tastes so yummy, you’ll find yourself singing “A penny for your thoughts!” as the dish simmers away. 😉

Spinach and Walnut One-Pan Pasta (Serves 4)

  • 1/2 onion, diced (if desired, add in additional vegetables, as discussed above)
  • Minced garlic to taste (or use additional garlic powder)
  • 1 can (14 – 15 ounces) diced tomatoes, UNDRAINED (suggest no-salt-added; use seasoned tomatoes if desired)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce (suggest no-salt-added; use seasoned sauce if desired)
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta or elbow macaroni
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach
  • Approximately 2 or 3 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon AND 2 cups water (OR use 2 cups vegetable stock or broth)
  • Seasonings to taste: basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder
  • Splash of red wine (optional)
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (vegetarians: leave out)
  • Approximately 1/3 coarsely chopped walnuts (eye ball it!), toasted
  • Parmesan or other favorite cheese, grated or shredded, to taste (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Lightly spray or oil a large skilllet. Sauté diced onion until softened. (As noted above, you can also add in additional vegetables, as desired.) Add in minced garlic to taste, if using, and sauté for a minute or two. Deglaze pan with a splash of red wine, if desired.
  2. Add in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and vegetable bouillon (or vegetable broth or stock), and frozen spinach. Add Worcestershire (if using) and sprinkle in seasonings to taste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in uncooked pasta. Reduce heat and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 1o to 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, lightly toast walnuts. (You can toast walnuts either in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, or toast in the toaster oven or oven at 325F/350F, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Watch nuts closely while toasting — they will burn in a flash!)
  5. Remove lid from skillet and stir. If sauce is a bit too thin for your tastes, simmer with the lid off for a few minutes to thicken it up.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and toasted walnuts. Refrigerate leftovers.

Like “That Smells Yummy!” on FaceBook for more fun!


About MissieLee

I love tasty food prepared in a healthy way with a budget in mind.
This entry was posted in Main Dish, Pasta, Vegetarian/Meatless and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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