Penne Pasta With Creamy Tomato and Meat Sauce

Penne With Creamy Meat Sauce

Diana Rattray

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
503 Calories
13g Fat
71g Carbs
25g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 503
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 42mg 14%
Sodium 379mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 71g 26%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Protein 25g
Calcium 213mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This family favorite pasta dish adds a unique creamy meat sauce to make penne or ziti pasta that will please kids and adults alike. The tomato and beef sauce can be modified with ground Italian sausage. Or use ground turkey or chicken chunks if you don't eat red meat. If you prefer a vegetarian sauce, go ahead and omit the meat. Add extra cheese for the protein if you'd like. A vegetarian meat replacement (e.g., TVP, Gimme Lean) is another option.

For a vegetarian version, try this recipe for Penne Pasta Bake with Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese.

Some shredded carrot, celery, and onion add flavor and nutrients to the sauce. There is a small amount of wine in the dish, but feel free to replace it with some water or broth if you don't care to cook with alcohol.

Top the pasta casserole with shredded Parmesan cheese just before serving and eat away. Add a French bread baguette, crusty rolls, or garlic bread to help make this a satisfying meal, or add a Caesar salad or lightly dressed spring greens.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 small carrot (peeled and finely shredded)
  • 1 rib celery (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef (or more for a meatier sauce)
  • 1 small clove garlic (crushed and minced)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
  • 12 ounces penne pasta (or ziti)
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, frequently stirring, until softened. Stir in shredded carrot, chopped celery, and 1/4 cup water; cook until vegetables are tender and liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes longer.

  2. Add the ground beef to the vegetables and cook ​until it has browned and is no longer pink, or about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.

  3. Add the wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated about 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, 1/2 cup of milk, salt, pepper, and oregano. Reduce heat and simmer, frequently stirring, until the milk has been absorbed.

  5. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened, gradually adding the remaining 1 cup of milk. Cook over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

  6. Meanwhile, cook penne pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water following the package directions until just tender; drain well.

  7. Transfer sauce to a large serving bowl. Add the penne pasta and Parmesan cheese; toss penne pasta gently. Sprinkle some extra Parmesan cheese over the bowl of pasta and serve more at the table.