Butternut & Spinach Penne

A little bit of effort makes the end result so worthwhile.

Serves 6


– 1 kg butternut, peeled and cubed
– 50 ml olive oil
– 15 ml balsamic vinegar
– 15 ml fresh herbs or 10 ml mixed dried herbs
– 300 g each button and black mushrooms, sliced
– 15 ml butter or margarine and 15 ml sunflower oil
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 5 ml soy sauce


1. Preheat oven to 200ºC/ 180ºC fan/ Gas mark 6.
2. Place the butternut in a large roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil and the balsamic vinegar over it. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs or dried herbs. Roast for approximately 35 minutes or until the butternut is soft.
3. While the butternut is roasting, sauté the mushrooms in a large frying pan with the butter or margarine and a little oil. Add half the garlic and the soy sauce. Once softened, add 25 ml crème fraiche and simmer until the liquid has reduced. Do not allow to dry out. Set aside.
4. Place spinach in a suitable microwaveable dish. Cook on 100% power for 2 – 3 minutes. Place in a colander and drain off excess liquid, or squeeze spinach dry between two dinner plates of equal size. Chop roughly. Add the Parmesan cheese, remaining garlic, nutmeg, seasoning and 100 ml crème fraiche.
5. Toss the penne lightly with about 25 ml crème fraiche.
6. Grease an ovenproof dish, 22 x 18 cm. Place half the butternut on the bottom of the dish, followed by half the penne. Top this with mushroom and spinach. Layer the rest of the pasta over this, ending with a top layer of butternut.
7. Dot the rest of the crème fraiche over the top and sprinkle breadcrumbs, followed by the cheese, over the butternut.
8. Bake: at 180ºC/160ºC fan/Gas mark 4 for about 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese has melted and is golden in colour. Combination/Solar Dom: 180°C + 70% microwave power for 12 – 15 minutes until cheese has melted and colour is golden brown. Microwave: Dust top with paprika, cook on 70% power for 8 – 10 minutes until cheese has melted and the dish is heated through.
9. Serve with a salad and crusty bread to mop up the sauce.