Penne with Vegetables and Kefir Tomato Sauce

Are the cold temps, short days and countless holiday commitments leaving you uninspired at the end of the day? We’ve been there! This time of year, it can be an achievement just to put the laundry away. But don’t head for the frozen food section just yet – a healthy, comforting and delicious meal can be brought together in just a few steps! Yes, pasta has once again come to the rescue.


Pasta is often considered a “no-no” for calorie-conscious eaters, but it doesn’t have to be shunned completely. When eaten in moderation, it makes an energizing meal that keeps your hunger at bay for hours (and is perfect fuel for snow ball fights and sledding). Not only is our recipe filling, it’s also full of fiber and probiotics, thanks for the surprise inclusion of our Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir. Even more, it’s packed with immune system super starts in the forms of vitamins A, C and B6!

This recipe can easily be doubled (as long as you have a pot large enough!) to feed a crowd, or keep as leftovers throughout the week. If you don’t have the vegetables called for on hand, feel free to substitute with anything seasonal you have. We’ve tried it with mixed bell peppers, broccoli, summer squash and mushrooms – all are delicious! Any pasta will work, too. We recommend one that has crevices to pick up and hold the chunky sauce.


Penne with Vegetables and Kefir Tomato Sauce

Serves 6-8

  • 1 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
  • 1 lbs. gluten-free penne pasta
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 large asparagus bunch, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes + extra for garnish
  • 1 28-ounce can high-quality crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Toss the zucchini and asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender – about 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium/large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and red pepper and cook for one minute, careful not to burn the garlic. Add the crushed tomatoes and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until it reaches the thickness you desire.

While the sauce is simmering, cook your pasta according to directions for al dente. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and give it a quick rinse. Shake the colander well to remove as much water as pasta before adding the pasta to the sauce. Add the roasted vegetables and toss to combine. Stir in basil.

Before plating, mix in your kefir. It’s important to make sure the kefir doesn’t get too hot, otherwise all of the probiotics will die. Divide the dish among bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese, basil and red pepper flakes to taste. Enjoy with a fresh salad and crusty French bread covered in Farmer Cheese for a vitamin and probiotic-rich meal that’s as comforting as it is easy to make.

That’s it; it’s super simple! What do you think, will you give it a try? Let us know how you like it and if you customize it (we bet our Greek Style kefir would make the sauce extra creamy and indulgent).

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