Artichoke, spinach and butternut squash combine to make a creamy, healthy take on vegan comfort food. This penne bake tastes like it’s bad for you but actually is very healthy. The sauce is tofu and butternut squash based which makes it velvety smooth but also high in protein. Plus there are no added oils so this pasta is low in fat as well! It’s the perfect dish for a cool, rainy day dinner; filling and warm but not guilty. It’s one of my favorite weekday meals because it’s very quick to make. A win-win.
I chose whole wheat penne for this casserole-esque meal because the sauce really thickens up while baking and clings well to this type of noodle. Feel free to switch it up though. I think bowtie pasta would be fantastic with this! To your basic pasta I’ve paired artichoke, spinach and butternut squash. Artichoke hearts add a wonderful, tangy flavor. I buy my artichoke hearts frozen instead of the typical jafred marinated variety. With frozen artichoke hearts you really need to cook the liquid off before folding them into the pasta otherwise things will get soggy. They have a lot of juice! I cook them with a little bit of balsamic to punch up the flavor. If you aren’t an artichoke person play with the veggies and use up whatever you have on hand. Peas are classic and would be at home in this. Or asparagus. Or broccoli. Get creative!
The sauce is important! You want it rich and decadent but it’s only Wednesday so not too decadent. This sauce tastes like a million bucks though. You’d never know how healthy it is without any added fat. No oil makes it the perfect whole food plant based sauce. Soft tofu really creates the creaminess but also adds in extra protein. Then add in a generous handful of nutritional yeast and a little butternut squash and you have the prettiest creamsicle colored sauce. Before baking the sauce is not really runny but it has a soft consistency and doesn’t seem like it has any staying power. BUT! When you bake it the tofu thickens and creates this really rich, thick sauce. It gets all into the penne. I’m telling you it’s so good!
Combine everything, top with hearty whole grain bread crumbs for some extra texture and throw that baby in the oven! I broil it a little bit to get the top nice and toasted. Let stand for a few minutes before serving so that everything melds together. Serve with a side of green salad and you have a nutritious, easy and delicious dinner. Mmmm can’t beat artichoke, spinach and butternut squash all rolled together. Three of my most favorite things. Well, actually four if you count the penne.