Carluccio’s Penne Giardiniera

Carluccio’s Penne Giardiniera Recreation

Despite the highly saturated market of the high street Italian restaurant, Carluccio’s remains as one of my favourites – it is such as family place.

I always meet my Nonna at the one in London Waterloo for lunch and catch up, or pop in to the local one near my dads house for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta.

Typically however I always tend to eat the same dish, the Penne Giardiniera described as

“Giant Pugliese penne, spinach balls, grated courgette, garlic, chilli and cheese
We will donate 50p/50c to the Antonio Carluccio Foundation on your behalf, in support of Action Against Hunger.”

Caprese Salad

As well as a mozzarella based starter – love it!


However it then dawned on me that the Giardiniera pasta dish is possible to recreate. It does require a little bit more effort than my other recipes but it is super duper tasty and totally worth it.

Essentials you will need are tap water, olive oil, salt and pepper – SERVES 4 PEOPLE.

You’ll also need pasta: you can find Giant penne at Italian Deli’s however for an easy supermarket alternative for the GIANT part this Morrisons Trotolle Pasta is great

Otherwise any pasta shape you prefer would suffice;

For the sauce you will need:

  • 2 courgettes: grated.
  • 3 garlic cloves – crushed.
  • 80g parmesan grated
  • 1 chilli – chopped or half a teaspoon of dried chilli powder

For the Spinach Balls you’ll need:

  • 500g Spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of garlic puree
  • 120g breadcrumbs
  • 60g parmesan


  1. Boil a pan of water, generously salting it and blanch the spinach (dunk it) for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and run cool water over the spinach. Squeeze out excess water with your hands and roughly chop.
  2. In a bowl combine together the spinach, eggs, garlic puree, breadcrumbs, parmesan and seasoning, add water or breadcrumbs until the mixture holds itself together. .
  3. Add a splash of olive oil to a large bottomed frying pan and turn to a medium heat.
  4. Roll the spinach mixture together into small balls and fry in the pan for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  5. Start cooking your chosen pasta
  6. In a separate smaller pan for the sauce; add a splash of oil and turn to a medium heat and fry the garlic and fresh chilli until soft (2-3mins).
  7. Add in the courgettes and fry for a further 5 minutes – if using chilli powder add this now.
  8. Stir in the parmesan, seasoning and 2 ladels of salted pasta water.
  9. Tip your drained pasta into the large pan where your spinach balls should now be fried and pour in the sauce.
  10. Mix this together adding more parmesan and seasoning to taste.

For a healthier alternative: Use a 1 cal olive oil spray and replace the pasta with spiralised courgettes.

Make it more interesting? I like to throw in some chopped bacon or lardons and fry these until crispy with the crushed garlic cloves and chilli.



Penne Giardinera



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