Back-to-School Recipe: Rainbow Penne Pasta

Borgess Medical Center registered dietitian Alexandra Cook recommends using whole grain pasta with this recipe. (JESSICA WHEELER/WWMT)

Serving Size: 1 Cup

Serves: 8


  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 16-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, thinly sliced; slices halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to fully release into the oil.
  4. Add the broccoli, beans, pepper, 3 tablespoons water, and salt.
  5. Cover and adjust heat to medium. Steam, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until the broccoli is hot and the pepper is crisp tender.
  6. Toss the pasta with the vegetables. Top with the Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper.

For a spicier flavor, add more garlic and/or pepper. Or, substitute any vegetables your children (or you) like, varying cooking time as needed.

SOURCES: Touchpoint Support Services, Borgess Health, Ascension, and

(The Rainbow Penne Pasta Recipe comes from contributor Melissa Ohlson, a registered dietitian and nutritionist.)

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