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Blushing Penne Pasta Recipe

Blushing Penne Pasta Recipe

Margaret Wilson reworked this recipe from an original that called for vodka and heavy whipping cream. Her friends and family in Hemet, California have a hard time believing a sauce this rich, flavorful and creamy could be light.
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min. YIELD:8 servings


  • 1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream, divided
  • 1/2 cup white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided


  • 1. Cook penne according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook onions in butter for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the thyme, basil and salt; cook 1 minute longer. Add 1 cup cream, wine and tomato paste; cook and stir until blended.
  • 2. Combine flour and remaining cream until smooth; gradually stir into onion mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Drain penne; toss with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 336 calories, 10g fat (6g saturated fat), 34mg cholesterol, 445mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 12g protein

Reviews for Blushing Penne Pasta

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Reviewed Aug. 30, 2015

"I am not a big fan of tomato based sauces, so for me, this was the perfect balance of flavors. With some added chopped chicken, this is a recipe I will make again and again."

Reviewed Feb. 19, 2014

"My husband and I love this recipe! So simple and quick to make when on the run!"

Reviewed Jul. 19, 2013

"I thought the thyme was a little strong, but I would definitely make it again, just back off on that. Whole family liked it!"

Reviewed Feb. 15, 2013

"This is my family's favorite meal. It's the requested birthday dinner for my husband and daughter. I make it a lot when we have company over. I use more tomato paste than the recipe calls for. It's also great with shrimp or chicken added to it."

Reviewed Jan. 9, 2012

"Cheesy goodness. Very similar to a dish I loved in a restraunt. I like to add a can of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese then bake it just a bit to melt the cheese."

Reviewed Nov. 11, 2011

"This is company-worthy."

Reviewed Nov. 10, 2011

"Delicious! And my kids couldn't wait to get home from school the next day to have the leftovers for snack!"

Reviewed Oct. 22, 2011

"My family loved this! The sauce is rich and creamy and so easy to make. This is a keeper! Thanks fo the recipe."

Reviewed Mar. 3, 2011

"it just missed. Too much srong thyme flavor overpowered the subtle blush of the sauce. A bit thick as well, and I used fat free half and half."

Reviewed Jul. 10, 2010

"I thought this was pretty good. Didn't have fresh herbs, so I used dry. It's probably better with fresh though. I also added precooked chicken, and subbed some of the salt with garlic salt."

Reviewed Feb. 22, 2010

"I thought this was a little bland. I used fresh thyme and fresh basil. I also added fresh tomatoes. I just thought it needed something else."

Reviewed Feb. 2, 2010

"Amazing! Love it! Made 3 batches...2 for friends and 1 for us! I am addicted!"

Reviewed Dec. 3, 2009

"Absolutely of our favorites! I often add chunks of grilled chicken."

Reviewed Dec. 17, 2008

"Fantastic recipe"

Reviewed Sep. 14, 2008

"The sauce is DELICIOUS! I usually serve this with the Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs."

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Wine Pairings

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.