Cream Cheesy Zucchini Spinach Penne

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

 Here’s a really easy recipe that your kids are sure to love. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of veggies.

 Nutritional Information Per Serving:  310 calories, 14 grams protein, 10 grams of fat,  43 grams of CHO,  5 grams of dietary fiber, 366 mg sodium.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: Six – 1  1/3 cups each


  • 8 oz  whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked*
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • ½ lb sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp each: dried basil, oregano leaves and crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 4 oz low fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 6 oz baby spinach leaves
  • ¼  cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided


Heat over to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions.  Meanwhile, heat oil is a large skillet over medium heat.  Add zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes while stirring often or until zucchini is crisp-tender.  Add flour and seasonings.  Cook and stir for 1 minute.  Stir in broth and cook while stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened.  Add cream cheese and cook and stir for 2 – 3 minutes or until melted.  Drain pasta and then return to pan.  Add zucchini miture, spinach, Parmesan cheese and ½ the mozzarella cheese.  Mix lightly.  Spoon into a 2-qt. casserole which was sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until mozzarella cheese in melted.

Shopping List

  • 1  box (16 oz) Whole Wheat Pasta Penne
  • olive oil
  • 1 zucchini
  • fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • dried basil
  • oregano leaves
  • crushed red pepper
  • fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • low fat cream cheese
  • 6 oz baby spinach leaves
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

*You can substitute rigatoni pasta rather than use whole wheat pasta.

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Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    



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