Spicy Penne Rosa Pasta with Shrimp

In our house cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, hot mustard, and siracha sauce are staples.   We like things with heat!  And usually I add a little bit of something to give our meals that extra kick.  So when I decided to marinate the shrimp for this meal in a couple teaspoons of cayenne pepper I thought it would be no big deal.

Well guess what?  My husband had to eat tums after dinner and went to bed a couple of hours later still complaining of heartburn.  It was then I realized I may have overdone things. Whoops.  Lesson learned.  However, this dish was amazing and I’d highly encourage you to try it.  But don’t marinate the shrimp in pepper.  Unless you want to burn your throat and cry your eyes out.

Spicy Penne Rosa Pasta with Shrimp
Adapted from this recipe at Back to Her Roots.


  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 24 medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 oz goat cheese


  1. Cook penne according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.
  3. Add in tomatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes
  4. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the penne, Greek yogurt and goat cheese. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through.

This meal was great.  Seriously.  Don’t let the spicy story above scare you away.  I was actually fine with the heat.  Certainly hotter than some of our other dishes but not unbearable to me (if you want it hotter, coat the shrimp in two teaspoons cayenne before you cook them).  I think adding in the goat cheese helped to tone it down a bit.  Did you know if your mouth is on fire from something hot you should drink milk?  True story.  At least that was my reasoning behind adding in goat cheese.  I think it worked.

Another true story?  That spicy foods are good for you!  Eating hot things has serious health benefits so if you’re not on the picante train, you should be.  Check out this article from Self Magazine on the benefits of spicy foods:

1. Weight Loss: For one, the extra kick of hot sauce or a chopped jalapeno can make even the most bland diet food more palatable, causing you to be more likely to stick with your weight loss plan. In addition, they may jack up your metabolism. Studies show that the main compound in chilies, called capsaicin, has a thermogenic effect and may cause the body to burn bonus calories for 20 minutes post chow-down.

2. Heart Health: Studies show that cultures that eat the most spicy food have much lower incidence of heart attack and stroke. Potential reasons: Chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of LDL (bad cholesterol) and capsaicin may fight inflammation, which has been flagged as a risk factor for heart issues.

3. Cancer Prevention: According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to kill some cancer and leukemic cells. One particular spice, turmeric, found in curry powder and some mustards, may slow the spread of cancer and growth of tumors. “It has the same effects on the body as certain cancer drugs do.” says Gregory A. Plotnikoff, M.D., senior consultant for health care innovation at Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota. Pair it with black pepper to absorb 2,000 percent more turmeric. Fantastic on roasted veggies or kebabs, or in soups.

4. Lower Blood Pressure: Vitamins A and C strengthen the heart muscle walls, and the heat of the pepper increases blood flow throughout your body. All of this equals a stronger cardiovascular system.

5. Fewer Blow-Your-Top Moments: Spicy foods boost production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin. So they may help ease depression and stress.
What about you guys?  Are you fans of spicy foods?  I actually avoided most hot things until I met Chris and now I can’t get enough.



13 thoughts on “Spicy Penne Rosa Pasta with Shrimp

  1. I think my fiance would LOVE this dish, he loves anything with spice! I used to love spicy food but I don;t know what happened, I’m such a wuss about it now! This just looks so creamy and delicious, I’m hungry!

  2. this looks so freaking good. pretty sure I have all the ingredients except tomatoes right now. I think I saw this on Pinterest too. I have so many recipes I want to make right now!

    • It’s amazing. The goat cheese wasn’t in the original recipe but I needed something to balance out the spice. Chris and I both decided that we’ll keep it in next time even though I’m scrapping the pepper.

  3. I made this tonight! We both LOVED it. I put tons of red pepper in it and extra spinach and it was great! We really like spicy though. I served it with roasted broccoli. I use the high fiber penne from Trader Joe’s and it is super filling!

  4. Pingback: Recipe Wednesday: Crock Pot Meals! | Healthy Living Blogs

  5. I saw this over on a site called “healthylivingblogs”, and it looked so great I had to come find out the recipe. I love spicy food, and will be trying out some variations on this recipe as soon as possible.

  6. So, I made this again and I tried to use canned tomatoes instead of fresh because that’s what I had, and I also replaced the spinach with Kale. I think the canned tomatoes ruined it! It just was not as good!

    • That’s good to know. I’ve thought about using canned because they seem easier. How was the kale? I worry that might be too tough? PS I miss you! I feel like it’s been a million years since I’ve actually talked to you hahah.

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