sweet potato + spinach + almond pasta

The Betoota Advocate recently posted an article with the headline “Monday Breakfast of Acai Berries Makes Up For 97 Schooners Consumed Over Weekend”. If you’re unfamiliar with The Betoota, do yourself a favour and check out their website. A hilarious satirical newspaper, they never fail to get a laugh out of me. The thing about their stuff is that they draw a very fine line between a send up and reality; they flirt with the truth. If you’re a Betoota fan like me, you’ll know what I mean.

The article talks about a ‘local’ bloke who goes out over the weekend, overindulging in too much alcohol, no sleep and very little concern about his health. Only to make up for it all by ordering a long black coffee and a bowl of Acai berries come Monday morning. Surely this healthy choice cancels out all of the bad right?!

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 9.24.36 am.pngThis image is courtesy of The Betoota Advocate

I guess meat free Monday in our household is kind of like that. After a weekend of good food, one too many drinks and some pretty disappointing footy (Cork Daddy’s Dee’s didn’t make the Granny) we’re ready to ‘up’ the veggie intake once Monday rolls round. If Sundays are all about the ‘fry up’ than Monday is definitely about trying to get back on the straight and narrow.

And this bowl of roasted sweet potato, baby spinach and toasted almond pasta really hits the spot.

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Easy to make, perfect for lunch or dinner or to take along to a barbie, it’s always a bonus  having leftovers for work the next day. Be sure to check out ‘Lo’s tips’ below for variations on the recipe; it’s so versatile.

I like the crunch that the nuts bring and paired with the softness of the sweet potato and freshness of the spinach, it just really works. Make sure you load it up with finely grated parmesan, season it well with cracked black pepper and the addition of the lemon juice makes it zing.

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But you don’t need to wait for Monday; simply throw some sweet potato in your trolley today and give this a go. An affordable meal and perfect for the whole family (even if your kids do just pick out the pasta). It’s good to introduce them to new ingredients and you can always pop some snags on the barbie too if you like. (Not that there’s anything meat free about that.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go and read the paper; see what the boys at The Betoota have for me today.

And I think I may need to order myself another coffee.

“Hi, I’ll have a long black thanks”.

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sweet potato + spinach + almond penne

1 x large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
A sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and woody stalk discarded
1 x brown onion, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
300ml of thickened cream
A light sprinkling of dried parsley
A light sprinkling of ground nutmeg
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
200 grams of baby spinach leaves
A handful of slivered almonds, toasted (or pine nuts)
400 grams of penne pasta, (reserving a cup of the pasta water to loosen up the sauce)
A really good grating of fresh parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
A dash of olive oil

  • Roast the sweet potato and fresh rosemary in a baking tray lined with baking paper, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil. In a moderate oven (180℃) it should take between 30-40 minutes. (This step can be done beforehand.)
  • In a small fry pan, dry toast the almonds for a few minutes until slightly toasted. Be careful not to let them burn. Don’t take your eyes off them. Set aside.
  • Next, add the pasta to a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook until al dente. (Make sure that you reserve a cup of the cooking water as you’ll need this to loosen up the pasta sauce). 
  • While this is happening, add a dash of olive oil to a frypan and sauté the onions until softened, adding the garlic after a couple of minutes.
  • Add the cream, parsley, nutmeg, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir over a low heat until combined.
  • Once your pasta is cooked and the sweet potato is roasted, simply combine the pasta with the cream sauce, sweet potato, baby spinach, half the almonds, a good amount of grated cheese and a good splash of the pasta water to loosen the sauce up a bit.
  • Pour out on to a large round serving platter and top with lashings of freshly grated parmesan cheese, sprinkling the rest of the almonds over the top. Drizzle some good quality olive oil over the top to finish.

Lo’s tips

  • You really mustn’t overcook the pasta – you don’t want it to become soggy.
  • You also don’t want the pasta to be too dry, hence why I use the reserved pasta water to loosen up the sauce. You can also add a splash of milk if you like (especially if you’re cooking more than 400 grams of pasta at a time).
  • You can replace the roasted sweet potato with pumpkin.
  • Substitute the parmesan cheese with feta.
  • Go ahead and add bacon; browning it along with the onions.
  • I often throw in some cooked chicken as well. Especially if I have some leftover barbecue chook in the fridge.
  • The baby spinach can be replaced with broccoli florets also (throw the broccoli in with the penne halfway through the cooking process).
  • I choose to add the baby spinach when I’m combining the cooked pasta with the sauce so it cooks slightly from the residual heat, but doesn’t entirely wilt.
  • It’s also lovely if you roast some garlic cloves along with the sweet potato. Simply pop them out of their skins once cooked and add to the pasta. Yum.
  • Also feel free to add some chilli flakes for a bit of an extra kick.

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If you make this pasta, please leave your comments below. xx

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