There is a reason pasta is a fan favorite. It’s fast, versatile and oh so satisfying. It’s easy to adapt ingredients to feature the best of the season when you know the most abundant fruits and veggies are at their peak freshness and also their least expensive, due to good old supply and demand. Right now winter squashes and mushrooms crowd our supermarket shelves and dark leafy greens are still readily available. So stock up and do yourself a favor; whip up a quick batch of this yummy pasta. You won’t be disappointed.
I love the colors of this dish. As you know, via the concept of Eating the Rainbow, the more colors you can include in your food, the more likely you are to have a vast array of vitamins and minerals. Any time you can sneak dark, leafy greens into meals, you’re adding important vitamins and minerals, but did you know that both butternut squash and spinach are good sources of fiber and Vitamin C and excellent sources of Vitamin A? Mushrooms also add great nutritional value and help provide the feeling of fullness without adding unnecessary calories, fat or cholesterol.
TIPS: Whatever you do, don’t forget to scoop out the pasta water which is a magic elixir. It turns non-tomato based pasta sauces into velvety deliciousness and ‘loosens’ up a dry or too thick sauce. Regular water just doesn’t give the same results. Feel free to substitute the spinach for any dark leafy green. Swiss chard or kale are good choices but may take a bit longer to wilt.
PENNE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH
- 12 ounces whole-wheat or multigrain penne
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (or other winter squash)
- 6-8 crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, small dice
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried