Not Quite CopyCat Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill

So I’ve had my eye on this recipe that I’d seen on Pinterest for while for CopyCat Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill. Except I don’t like pimentos. Well, I don’t mind them, but I don’t love them either. When seeing the recipe, I’d thought that it would be delicious if I made it with red bell peppers instead of the pimentos. So I waited for a red bell pepper sale. I’d seen $1 sales…but I was hoping for a $.75 sale.

And then a $.33 sale happened at Sprouts.

I was shocked by this price and knew this was my one and only chance to make this…if I was going to get it even close to $5. (It’s a bit over because I used both shrimp and chicken. Use chicken only and it’d probably hit the mark.)

And I’ve given this the label of “not-quite” because I didn’t use the rosemary, pancetta, or pimentos. :)

Shrimp sauteeing with the onions…before the diced chicken gets added in.

Shrimp and chicken swimming in the marsala-cream sauce…flavors mingling.

Pasta and red peppers, waiting to be tossed with the saucy chicken-shrimp mixture.

Hot and fresh outta the oven with ooey gooey cheese melted to perfection.

The marsala in the homemade white sauce really gave a rich flavor to this pasta dish. Next time I make it, I’ll probably just use chicken and save a few dollars on the shrimp!

This is definitely one you want to include on an upcoming meal plan!

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Not-Quite CopyCat Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill

Adapted from Girl Who Ate Everything

Yield – 8 servings

Preparation Time – 30 minutes

Cooking Time – 20 minutes


Gratinata Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon butter ($.03)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic ($.10)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard ($.02)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill ($.05)
  • 1/2 cup marsala cooking wine ($.75)
  • 4 cups heavy cream ($1)


  • 9 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined ($2)
  • 2 small grilled chicken breasts, diced ($2)
  • 1/4 cup butter ($.40)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped ($.20)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12-16 ounces penne pasta, cooked ($.50)
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped ($.66)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese ($.75)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ($1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika ($.02)



  • To make the gratinata sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan or skillet with a rim. Whisk in the chopped garlic, mustard and dill. Pour in the marsala cooking wine and then whisk in the cream. Let simmer over low heat and let reduce by half.
  • Cook the pasta and chicken if needed.
  • In another saucepan or skillet, saute the shrimp and chicken with the butter and onion. Add a little salt and pepper. Once the gratinata sauce has reduced, add it into the skillet or saucepan with the chicken and shrimp. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, allowing flavors to mingle.
  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • In a 9×13 inch baking dish, toss the cooked penne pasta and red bell peppers. Pour in the saucyt chicken-shrimp mixture and toss gently. Top with the Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake in the preheated for 20 minutes, or until bubbling and cheese has melted and begun to brown.
  • Sprinkle paprika on top before serving.
  • Serve Not-Quite CopyCat Penne Rustica.

Cost $9.48 (8 servings!)

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  1. DONNA says


  2. Sarah Skeeters says

    I was so excited to try this recipe, but the cream curdled while it simmered and the sauce was ruined! I was so disappointed…what did I do wrong???

    • says

      Sarah, So sorry…making white sauces with cream is tricky business. I imagine that it came to a boil to fast. It really should only just simmer and “melt” into the sauce and then reduce down with the sauce. Sorry it happened!

  3. Sarah Skeeters says

    I was so excited to try this recipe, but the cream curdled while it simmered and the sauce was ruined. I was so disappointed…what did I do wrong??

  4. Carrie says

    I am a huge follower and love that I can go to your website and find something to make that won’t break the bank, even though I am cooking for 6-8 on any given night. But, I don’t know any store I can get 4 cups of cream for a dollar, please tell me!

  5. Kathy says

    Wanting to make this tonight, but wondering if I could use milk instead of heavy cream, then use a corn starch/water to thicken up?


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