Skinny Vegetarian Baked Penne

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Skinny Vegetarian Baked Penne

Classic baked pasta gets a healthy makeover in my Skinny Spinach Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne.

Skinny Spinach, Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne/ Running in a Skirt

Hi friends!

I forgot to mention yesterday that I did see Star Wars this weekend and I kind of loved it.  I can’t believe I got so wrapped up in those movies.  Now I’m waiting like the rest of the world for the next episode.  It was a lot of fun to hunker down and watch the entire series.  It was the perfect cold, January activity.

You know what else is perfect for cold weather?  Pasta.  As the weather cools, I find myself wanting creamy comfort food and pasta.  It can be quite dangerous.

I don’t believe in depriving yourself of food, instead creating healthier versions or eating the real deal in moderation.

Vegetarian Baked Pasta is one of my all time favorites… but creamy sauce can also be a crazy source of calories…

Skinny Spinach, Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne/ Running in a Skirt

My version, while still pretty sinful, uses low fat milk that thickens with flour to create the creaminess without actually adding any cream.

Skinny Spinach, Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne/ Running in a Skirt

I season it with lemon and nutmeg to brighten the flavors and bring a little bit of richness.

To health-ify it more I use whole wheat pasta and tons of iron-packed spinach.

The result is totally crave-worthy pasty goodness.

Skinny Spinach, Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne/ Running in a Skirt

This is a great dish that actually gets better for leftovers the next time.  I like making a big batch on Monday and eating off of it for several days.  And luckily my pasta cravings are curbed for at least a little while!

Skinny Spinach, Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne/ Running in a Skirt

It will give you enough energy to fly the entire galaxy… OR a nice long run the next day. 🙂 Enjoy!

Skinny Spinach, Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne/ Running in a Skirt

Skinny Vegetarian Baked Penne

Julie Wunder
Classic baked pasta gets a healthy makeover in my Skinny Spinach Parmesan and Lemon Vegetarian Baked Penne.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian, Vegetarian


  • 13 ounces whole wheat penne
  • 9 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 4 cloves
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper divided
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup panko


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large casserole dish.
  • Cook pasta one minute short of package instructions. It will continue to cook in the pasta bake so you want it under cooked.
  • Two minutes before pasta is scheduled to finish cooking, add the spinach to the pasta water to wilt. Cook along with pasta. Drain the pasta and spinach.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown.
  • Add the flour and garlic. Stir and coat the onion evenly with the flour. Cook for one minute.
  • Gradually add the broth and milk stirring frequently. Allow the sauce to come to a low boil to thicken. Stir for several minutes or until thick.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Season with nutmeg. Add the rest of the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir in the pasta, spinach and add the lemon juice. MIx well.
  • Put in a ** casserole dish and sprinkle the panko and remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on the top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is bubbly and brown.
Tried this recipe?Mention @Julie_Wunder or tag #RunninginaSkirt!

Thanks for stopping by!  See you tomorrow for a crazy story about time time I hiked through an old lava field on purpose!

I’m linking up with: Meatless Monday with Sarah and Deborah, Meatless Monday with Annmarie, Delicious Dish TuesdayWhat’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helen, FoodFriDIY,  Foodie Friday, and the Weekend PotluckThanks so much ladies for the link up parties!

Your turn!

How do you like to eat pasta?  Or do you never eat pasta?

What did you think of Star Wars?

By | 2018-06-28T14:15:15-04:00 January 12th, 2016|All Vegetarian, Dinner, Food, Lunch, Vegetarian Meals|24 Comments


  1. Michelle | A Dish of Daily Life January 21, 2016 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    This looks wonderful…I’d definitely like to try it! I’m always looking for more meatless meals!

  2. Miz Helen January 18, 2016 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Your Baked Penne looks wonderful and healthy! Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  3. Easy Peasy Life Matters January 15, 2016 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to give this a try! It looks delicious 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing on Full Plate Thursday!

  4. Farrah January 14, 2016 at 12:58 am - Reply

    I haven’t made a pasta dish in many moons, but you’re so right! This would be an awesome dish for cold weather! <3

  5. Kathryn @ Family Food on the Table January 13, 2016 at 9:15 am - Reply

    This is my kind of pasta dish! We always use whole wheat pasta and I pretty much never have cream… and I love making healthy substitutions and amping up the veggies in a dish – can’t wait to try this! Looks so creamy and delicious (but healthy – yay!) Will definitely be sharing. And I loved the new Star Wars too – they did such a great job staying true to the originals but taking the story in a new direction. Fun, fun!

    • JulieWunder January 14, 2016 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Yes! It’s nice mix between tasting indulgent but having lots of healthy swaps. Great to see you today!

  6. Rachel @ January 13, 2016 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Wow looks like gourmet pasta, thought it would be a tough recipe but when I read the instructions, it seems pretty simple!! I just pinned it so I can find it again! Yum!!

    • JulieWunder January 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      Nope! Pretty simple and the sauce is creammmmyyyy!

  7. Mandi Korn January 12, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    You always make great recipes, that I would love, love, love to make:o)

    • JulieWunder January 14, 2016 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      You can totally make this! Pretty simple! My hubby liked it too.

  8. Blane Sherer January 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    I’m glad you enjoyed Star Wars.
    I enjoyed it too. I am looking forward to
    the next one as well.

  9. Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction January 12, 2016 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Love that you lightened up a pasta dish! A great way to enjoy comfort food without all of the calories!

  10. Annmarie January 12, 2016 at 8:44 am - Reply

    I can totally see my hubby and kids gobbling this up!

  11. I love throwing a little nutmeg in there! Yum I have a new Meatless Monday host if you’d like to update you link. Nice to have you join as always 🙂

  12. Susie @ SuzLyfe January 12, 2016 at 6:35 am - Reply

    Such a great update to a classic. And YAS we have converted you. i thought the new movie, while, sure, a remake of the old, was exactly what it needed to be, and I loved it!

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