I cannot take credit for this recipe.

Nope this is what my family calls a Mrs. Mooney recipe. And no one will ever be able to make it as good as she does. She just has the touch. Something no one else can replicate, though we all try. Mrs. Mooney is family friend, she is an amazing cook. She would probably prefer I call her by her name, Laura, but even though I am old enough to call her by her first name I do not think I will ever be able to not call her Mrs. Mooney. That is just who she is to me.

Seriously, you guys she is amazing cook and this recipe is one of her best dishes. EVERYONE loves it. You are definitely some lucky people to be getting your hands on this recipe. It may sound simple, have simple ingredients and be fairly easy, but it is one serious crowd pleaser! Sometimes simple is best!

There are a few very important details to the penne. They are what make it different from any other boring penne recipe you have. First you need lots of olive oil, it will seem like you have used too much, but I promise you have not. Mrs. Mooney says you want equal parts olive and marinara sauce. Second, garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. It makes the sauce. Third, the marinara sauce. It has to be Newman’s Own Marinara sauce, no exceptions, no substitutions. Do not try to use any other marinara sauce, trust me I have tried. Newman’s is the best and they give all their profits to charity! And they just came out with an organic marinara. So, USE Newman’s. Finally, spicy italian sausage. This is optional, but honestly it is so much better when the sausage has simmered all day in the sauce. It just has SO much flavor.

We like to serve the Penne with grilled italian chicken. Just a little olive oil, basil, smoked paprika, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Oh and of course some bread to soke up that heavenly sauce.

This is a great meal to serve around Christmas time. It feeds a crowd, it super easy and can be prepared ahead of time. Plus, it is beautiful all plated up with a sprinkle of fresh grated parmesan cheese. Um and hello it is red and if you add some fresh chopped parsley it will be red and green!


  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Serving Size: 12


  • 3 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Jars Newman's Own Marinara
  • 10-12 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried Basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried Oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried Parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 1 pound Spicy Italian Suasage links or ground (optional)
  • 2 pounds Penne Pasta
  • Grilled Italian Chicken (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese, for serving


Mince your garlic, grate on a fine microplan or grind in a food processor. The garlic needs to be very small, almost paste like. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Watch the garlic carefully, if it burns you have to start over.

Add the marinara sauce, basil, oregano, parsley, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. The sauce will seem very oilily, this is what you want.

If using suasage links cut each link into 1/2 inch pieces, if you ground sausage roll the meat into tiny 1/2 inch balls.

Drop the suasage into the sauce and simmer for at least 3 hours, stirring occationally. The longer this cooks the better.

When ready to eat boil penne according to package directions.

To Serve: plate the penne and ladle on the sauce, top with grilled chicken if desired.

*This recipe can be easily halved

Ok, so go buy some Newman’s. Like now!