Here’s a quick, easy, and satisfying pasta dish that’s a cut above almost any that you’d find on a restaurant menu. The sweetness of the potatoes is balanced by the tangy spinach, and the smoked almonds have a flavor that’s reminiscent of (dare I say it) bacon. I hope you saved the recipe for the almond ricotta, or better yet that you froze some of it and can just thaw it out. I suppose it’s an optional addition, but I’d hate to miss it. It really brings together all the other flavors and adds a big nutritional boost.


1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

7 ounces penne pasta (such as Dreamfield’s)

5 ounces baby spinach

1/2 cup chopped smoked almonds

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Almond ricotta (see Oct. 16 recipe)


1. Line a sheet pan with parchment and set your oven at 425 degrees. You can skip the parchment and just coat the pan with nonstick spray if preferred.

2. Fill pasta pot with water and turn it on high so that the penne will be ready when the veggies come out of the oven.

3. In a plastic bag (I save cereal bags for this purpose), combine the sweet potato chunks and avocado oil and squish them around until evenly coated.  You could use a bowl instead, but then you’d have to wash it. Dump the sweet potatoes on the parchment and spread them around in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.

4. Remove the pan with sweet potatoes from the oven, toss them a bit, and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Then spread the spinach out on top of the potatoes, return the pan to the oven, and turn the oven off for 5 minutes. The potatoes will then be done and the spinach will be perfectly wilted.

5. While the sweet potatoes and spinach are roasting, cook the penne to the preferred doneness and drain it.

6. In a large pasta bowl, mix together the penne, sweet potatoes, spinach, pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Drizzle with olive oil.

7. Garnish with chopped smoked almonds.

8. Add a dollop of almond ricotta to each individual serving.