Easy Penne Pasta with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes, Arugula (or Spinach), and Parmesan
Easy Penne Pasta with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes, Arugula, and Parmesan is a great vegetarian pasta dish for Meatless Monday, or use this as a side dish if you prefer.
Sometimes my best recipes happen when I have a certain ingredient I’ve been infatuated with but suddenly I want to do something different with it. A few weeks ago that happened with my favorite Baby Arugula Salad
. Oh yes, I love that baby arugula salad, but that day I found myself with half a tub of baby arugula and a yearning for something different than a salad.
I knew arugula was great with pasta, and I always have sweet potatoes on hand, so I ended up creating this meatless dish that combines sweet potatoes sauteed and glazed with balsamic vinegar, wilted baby arugula, and a generous handful of good quality Parmesan cheese. This Easy Penne Pasta with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes, Arugula, and Parmesan was comforting and satisfying on a colder-than-I-might-have-wanted November day.
I know there are a few arugula-haters out there, so if you’re not a fan of arugula I would recommend making this just like the recipe below but with baby spinach. Other types of greens such as kale, swiss chard, or collard greens could be used, but they need more cooking so they’ll need to be sauteed separately and then added to the pasta.
(You can find more meatless recipes by using the Recipes-by-Photo Index Page for Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index. For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.)
Cut up one large orange-fleshed sweet potato into cubes not bigger than one inch square. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and start to saute the sweet potatoes.
I used Dreamfields Pasta to keep this a relatively South Beach Diet friendly dish, but you could use whole wheat pasta as well. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until just barely al-dente.
Wash the arugula if needed, then put it in the strainer where you’re going to drain the pasta and the hot water will wilt it just enough.
Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through and lightly browned, add 1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar to the pan and cook just until sweet potatoes are glazed with the vinegar. Season sweet potatoes with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Drain the pasta over the arugula, saving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Add the drained pasta and arugula to the glazed sweet potatoes and toss. Add the pasta cooking water and stir gently to combine.
Then stir in the freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and stir again gently. (I stirred in most of the cheese but saved a little to add at the table.) Serve hot.
Easy Penne Pasta with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes, Baby Arugula (or Spinach), and Parmesan
(Makes 4 generous servings; recipe created by Kalyn)
1 large orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (often called yams in U.S. stores)
1 T + 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 oz. baby arugula or spinach (or can use other chopped greens, but they will need to be sauteed separately)
2 cups (dry) penne pasta (I used Dreamfields pasta)
1 T good-quality balsamic vinegar (or a little more)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (for seasoning sweet potatoes)
2/3 cup coarsely-grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. While the water heats, peel sweet potatoes and cut them into 1 inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large heavy frying pan (big enough to hold the finished pasta dish) and begin to saute the sweet potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally so they don’t burn on one side.
When water boils, add the pasta, stir, and let it come back to a boil; then lower the heat to a medium simmer and cook just until the pasta is barely al-dente. (That was 9 minutes for the Dreamfields pasta I used.)
(If you want to make this with kale, swiss chard, or collard greens, they need to be washed, chopped, and then sauteed in additional olive oil in a separate pan, about 10 minutes total cooking time. Then add them to the sweet potatoes when you add the cooked pasta.)
When sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through (about 8-10 minutes), turn heat to low and add the other 1 tsp. of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Saute over low heat, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes more or until the sweet potatoes are all glazed with the vinegar. Season sweet potatoes well with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
Wash the arugula if needed and then place in the bottom of the colander where you’re going to drain the pasta. When pasta is done, scoop out 1/2 cup pasta cooking water; then pour the hot pasta over the arugula. Let it drain for a minute or so, then add the pasta and arugula to the pan with the sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and stir gently again. Then add most of the Parmesan cheese and stir again. Serve hot, with the reserved Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over each serving at the table.
South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
Sweet potatoes are much more low-glycemic
than regular white potatoes, but they are still restricted to phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. If you’re making this for South Beach, it’s important to use whole grain or Dreamfields pasta. Of course pasta can’t ever be low-carb but if you want less carbs for this recipe use more greens and less pasta and sweet potatoes.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn’t have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count
, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly
, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn’t have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Meatless Pasta Dishes You Might Enjoy:
(Recipes from other blogs not always Carb-Conscious or South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Penne Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pasta with Blue Cheese and Mushrooms from Nami Nami
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with No-Cook Sauce of Tomatoes, Arugula, Olives, and Capers from Kalyn’s Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)