Penne pasta cooked in a creamy sauce, filled with chicken and shrimp, and baked to perfection...sounds delicious, right? That’s what you get to taste with this Penne Rustica copycat recipe. It tastes just like the famous pasta dish made famous by Macaroni Grill. Not only is this dish full of rich flavors, it has different textures to keep you excited with each bite.
Penne Rustica is delicious, but it is not the healthiest dish. This pasta meal is all about treating yourself and your family to something that’s good for the soul! It’s quite the big recipe, so try making this scrumptious meal for you and your family! You’ll enjoy this meal so much, you may never go back to Macaroni Grill!
WHAT IS PENNE RUSTICA?
Penne Rustica is a dish that was created by the chain restaurant, Macaroni Grill. The creamy pasta dish had become so popular, the restaurant trademarked the name! It is penne pasta cooked in a cheesy sauce filled with chicken, shrimp and prosciutto. It’s then baked in the oven to form a wonderfully crispy top layer.
Butter: salted or unsalted works in this recipe. You can adjust the amount of butter used in the recipe.
Garlic: adds a nice kick and aroma to the pasta.
Dijon Mustard: gives the pasta a hint of spice and acidity to balance out the rich flavors.
Dill & Rosemary: you can use dried or fresh herbs.
Marsala Wine: use dry Marsala wine to get the best flavor. The alcohol will cook off, so don’t worry about giving this dish to your kids.
Cayenne Pepper: adds smokiness and spice. It doesn’t add too much spice, but if the dish ends up too spicy, then lessen or skip this ingredient.
Heavy Cream: makes the sauce nice and creamy. Feel free to adjust the amount of cream used.
Shrimp, Chicken, Prosciutto: these are the traditional meats for this recipe, but you can use any that you like.
Penne Pasta: penne is the best pasta for this recipe, because its shape holds the sauce well. You can use a different pasta shape.
Shallot: You can use half a white onion if you don’t have any shallots.
Parmesan Cheese: adds a strong, cheesy flavor. Grate your own parmesan cheese for the best results.
Paprika: brings out smoky notes in the penne rustica.
HOW TO MAKE THIS CREAMY COPYCAT PENNE RUSTICA
To make the Gratinata sauce, start off by melting some butter and cooking the garlic, rosemary, and dill. Pour in the Marsala wine and cook it until it is reduced by a third. Add in the mustard, cayenne pepper, and heavy cream. Let it cook until it reduces to half of what it was.
Now that your sauce is ready, you can prepare the rest of the dish. Add some oil to a pan and saute the prosciutto (or bacon) until it is just cooked. Stir in the butter, diced shallots, and shrimp. You can have your shrimps whole or chopped. Once the shrimps are about halfway cooked, add in the chicken, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
When the chicken is starting to brown on the outside, pour the gratinata sauce on top. Add in half a cup of grated parmesan and stir. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. While the sauce is simmering, cook the penne for about 5 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 475°F, then pour the pasta and gratinata sauce into a large baking dish. Give it a good mix, so everything is distributed evenly. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and paprika on top of the pasta, and bake for about 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RECIPE
The dish is too rich. How can I make it lighter?
Cut down the amount of heavy cream. If this doesn’t do the trick, use a bit less butter as well until you find the ratio that works for you.
What else can I add to the recipe?
There are many ways you can change up this recipe. You can add in some spinach, peas, sausage, or more seasonings.
Can I make the dish the day before?
Yes! Follow all the same steps up until baking. Cover the baking dish and keep it in the fridge for the next day. We don’t recommend waiting more than 2 days to bake this dish as there are dairy products, shrimp, and chicken in the recipe.
Is this penne rustica recipe freezer friendly?
Yes. The safest way to freeze this recipe is to put the pasta in an aluminum pan, cover with cling film, then foil. It can last in the freezer for 2 months. To bake the frozen penne rustica, move it to the fridge to thaw overnight. Bake it at 450°F until it’s all nice and hot!
- Feel free to change the amount of ingredients used. If you want something a little lighter, lessen the amount of heavy cream.
- Add in some spinach to the dish for a bit of nutrition to cut down the richness.