Some people have a fear of public speaking. Others fear heights. My biggest fear is running out of food. If I don’t have leftovers when a meal ends I immediately stress about my lack of preparation. What if my guests had wanted a fourth or fifth helping? Most visitors roll out of my house by the weight of their own bellies with a to-go container in each hand and still I wonder Did I have enough food?
As irrational as this may seem this fear creeps into my bi-weekly trips to the supermarket. Less is more is a saying that does not apply to my shopping cart. If I need 10 tomatoes I buy 15 because, well, you just never know. The good thing is that this extra preparation often lends itself to creativity. By the end of the week, once all my clients have been fed, I often find myself with an array of vegetables in the fridge that need to be used to make way for next week’s menu because what I fear even more than running out of food is letting good food go to waste.
Last week I prepared my clients a lovely quinoa salad with butternut squash, spinach, pomegranate seeds and much more. But, as always, I overstocked my veggies and that is how this pasta came about. It was such a hit with my husband and children that it will definitely become a weeknight regular. Now I just have to figure out what to do with those 15 extra pomegranates…..
- A few glugs of olive oil
- 1 Butternut Squash
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 cup chopped onions or shallots (about 1 large onion or 4 shallots)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 10 oz.(280g) baby spinach
- 500g/1 lb whole wheat penne
- 500 ml (2 heaped cups) low-fat sour cream or creme fraiche
- 70 g/ 2.5 oz (about 1 cup) grated parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
- Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into a dice and toss with a couple swigs of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and roast until soft and golden, about 25 minutes. With a potato masher mash half of the squash and leave the other half in chunks.
- Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large sauté pan heat a glug of olive oil before adding the shallots or onions. Sauté 5 minutes over medium-high heat until softened and then add the garlic and sauté another minute until the garlic is fragrant.
- While the onions are cooking rinse the spinach in a colander and shake or spin to dry a little. Once the garlic is fragrant add the spinach to the pan with a bit of the water still clinging to the leaves and sauté one minute, tossing constantly, until the spinach has just started to wilt.
- Cook the penne in the boiling water until al dente.
- Tip the spinach into a medium sized bowl. In the same sauce pan heat the creme fraiche (or sour cream) until it melts. Add the mashed squash to the creme fraiche and stir well to incorporate the squash into the cream..
- Add the spinach and pasta to the pan with the creme-fraiche and sour cream mixture. Toss to combine and keep tossing over medium-low heat until the sauce coats the pasta. Gradually add the parmesan while tossing.