It’s all about veggies

This recipe offers a lot of options. You can make the roasted vegetables as an accompaniment for the main dish of your choice, or you can combine it with pasta to make a stand-alone meal. And finally you can decide whether or not to add the cream and cheese sauce. Believe me, each one of these suggestions is a damn fine meal.

Dieters and cholesterol-watchers may happily eliminate the sauce without any serious taste-related consequences.Moving on: preheat the oven to 180ºC. Peel and deseed the butternut then cut into 10mm cubes. The cube size matters as it affects the roasting time. Small is good, small is quick. Rinse the bag of baby spinach leaves or alternatively attack the bunch of whole adult spinach by removing the tough crunchy bits. Peel, then slice the onion; crush, peel and coarsely chop the cloves of garlic.Pour two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil into a mixing bowl then add the sliced onion, chopped garlic and cubed butternut. Mix these to lightly cover the raw vegetables with olive oil, then spread the vegetables in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Stick this into the middle of the preheated oven and let the vegetables roast for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the counter. Pour a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into a large frying pan and bring up to medium heat.

Working in two or three batches, wilt the spinach in the hot oil for 30 seconds or so. This procedure allows the spinach to retain most of its colour and some of its crunch while making it digestible. Remove and reserve. At the same time place the fresh asparagus upright in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, then remove, drain and reserve.

Pasta, sauce … lift-off!
Bring a 2â„“ saucepan of lightly salted water to a swift rolling boil and cook the pasta for as long as the manufacturer suggests. While this is going on, boil the cream in a saucepan to reduce its volume by 25%. Sprinkle in the freshly ground Parmesan cheese and stir well to thicken the sauce.
Now for the final assembly: place a serving of carefully drained pasta on each plate, position a serving of roasted butternut and wilted spinach on top accompanied by a couple of asparagus spears. Pour over the cream and cheese sauce (optional, like I said), season with coarse black pepper and boy oh boy, what a meal. – David Basckin     |fw

Roast vegetables on pasta

While roast potatoes have been a staple of good eating since their discovery, the extension of the procedure to other vegetables has taken a little longer to become mainstream dining. At first the idea of roast butternut and spinach may take a little getting used to, but eating this glorious combination is something of a gustatory conversion experience. Those who eat it get to cook it, and so the word spreads, one glorious dinner at a time …

To make this combination of roast vegetables – with or without pasta – for four diners, you will need:
1 large butternut
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
One bag of baby spinach leaves or one bunch of whole spinach
100g Parmesan cheese
250 ml cream
2 bunches of fresh asparagus
500g ribbon pasta (Tagliatelle)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper on demand