There’s not a better way to end a great day than with a wonderful meal!

I had heard “iffy” reviews about this dish on my cooking board, where I found the recipe. Some felt they had to majorly alter the recipe and some followed it almost to a “T” and felt the was something missing.

My experience was very different. In fact, my experience with the recipe including a meal full of “mmms” with my dad almost singing through dinner with “mmms”.

It was quite comical and even today he was still talking about the penne rustica from last night. I guess it turned out well!

Like I said, I followed this recipe exactly and it was excellent. The rosemary really came through and the marsala wine gave the dish such a nice flavor, an almost (forgive me here for the reference) a la Rachel Ray ::shudder:: “hmm…what is that?” kind of feeling but with a little more “umph”.

However, this recipe calls for four, yes, FOUR (!!) cups of heavy cream and a stick of butter. So this was by no means a “light” recipe and thus the week’s healthy eating pretty much went out the window last night.

I did swap out 2 cups of the cream for skim milk but ah well! We all have to make sacrifices from time to time and I certainly have no regrets about sacrificing a week of good eating for this meal!

This is a special pasta dish, much like my one-pot creamy sausage pasta is, and I know we’ll be making it again soon!








And so on to the recipe for this penne rustica!

Penne Rustica

  • Prep Time: 25min
  • Cook Time: 10-15min
  • Yield: 8 servings


For the sauce:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup marsala wine
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk (any type)

For the rest of the dish:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp herbes de provence
½ tsp garlic powder
1 lb grilled chicken breast, sliced
½ oz pancetta or bacon
3 oz unsalted butter
½ tbsp chopped shallots (about ¼ small shallot)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
16 oz penne pasta, precooked


  • 01

    To make the sauce: In a large, deep-sided skillet, sauté butter, garlic and rosemary until garlic just begins to brown. Add the marsala wine and simmer until the liquid reduces by one-third.

    Add remaining sauce ingredients and reduce by half of original volume. Set aside.

  • 02

    To make the rest of the dish: While the sauce cooks, heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Drizzle both sides of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the herbes de provence, garlic powder, and a good pinch of salt and pepper over both sides of the chicken. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side. The chicken will be cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165° F on an instant read thermometer. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into ½-inch slices.

  • 03

    Preheat oven to 400° F.

  • 04

    Sauté pancetta/bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add the butter and shallots, and cook until the shallots are translucent about 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken, and good pinch of salt and pepper; mix thoroughly.

    Pour the sauce into the pan with the chicken mixture, mix in ½ cup parmesan cheese, and simmer until sauce thickens.

  • 05

    Turn the heat off and stir the cooked pasta into the sauce. Transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch glass baking dish. Top with remaining parmesan cheese.

  • 06

    Bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese on top is starting to brown and the edges are bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow the pasta to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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