Pasta tossed with seasonal vegetables is weeknight cooking at its best. I’ve posted countless spring and summer versions of this on The Messy Apron, but not so many of the fall and winter variety. That’s where this simple and delicious recipe comes in.
This pasta toss is loaded with roasted winter squash, spinach sautéed with garlic, and a handful of walnuts. I like the sweetness of the squash combined with the earthiness of the spinach and crunchy walnuts. I also put in a splash of cider vinegar, but lemon juice, which was in the original inspiration recipe, might be even better.
In order for this dish to be utterly simple to throw together, the squash needs to be handled ahead of time. The way I managed it was to peel and cube the squash one day, roast it with olive oil and salt another day, and keep it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make pasta. This requires some planning ahead, but that’s the only way I can get just about anything interesting going.
There are lots of ways to vary this, of course. I used a red kuri squash, but butternut would be even easier to peel and cut, and Hubbard or other similar sweet winter squash would be great, too. You could replace the spinach with kale or chard, or with any greens you like. I love the walnuts here, but they don’t need to be there if you don’t want them, or you could replace them with something like pine nuts or pumpkin seeds. I added a garnish of parmesan cheese to each serving of my spaghetti, but you could easily make it vegan by just leaving it off.
As a reward for my successful planning and preparations, I also have the rest of my squash all ready to go for another recipe. I’m thinking of this Squash and Pinto Bean Chili from the archives for some warm comfort as these autumn nights get colder. Mmmmm…..good eating this week!
Spaghetti with Winter Squash, Spinach, and Walnuts
Based on a recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen
2 cups cubed (about 1-inch), peeled winter squash
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided, plus more for the pasta water
½ pound spaghetti or other long pasta
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed chile flakes
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped if leaves are large
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ cup chopped walnuts
Chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the squash, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Toss together to coat the squash well. Transfer to a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 400 F until tender and lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven and set aside. (This can be done ahead of time. Cover and chill until ready to use.)
2. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until it is as tender as you like to eat it. Drain and keep warm.
3. In a large saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute, or until fragrant and just beginning to brown. Add the crushed chile flakes and cook about 15 seconds more.
4. Add the spinach and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach is completely wilted. Stir in the cooked squash. Add the cooked spaghetti and cider vinegar and toss to combine well.
5. Stir in the walnuts and remove from the heat. Garnish each serving with parsley and parmesan if desired.
Makes about 4 main dish servings.
Other recipes like this one: Pasta with Shredded Winter Vegetables, Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce