This is a winter grab-bag salad that looks so lovely in green and red that it will take your breathe away.
The bright green spinach leaves will wilt with the heat of the baked squash and hot pasta noodles. It is hearty and filling and if you wanted it to be just a bit bigger, a can of drained chickpeas would not hurt.
I put pine nuts in this salad to match the kalamanta olives and feta cheese, but walnuts or pecans will do. This salad comes together in less than an hour, good with a crusty roll
1Begin by peeling, seeding and chopping a butternut squash into medium sized squares. A box of pre-cut squash from the store is fine, just cut them into bite size.
2Chop the onion, one large or two medium, and then mix with the squash and 2 tablespoons of olice oil, and generous salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes in a 350 oven. Stir and turn after 15 minutes. You want these fully cooked and carmelized.
3Cook the box of pretty tomato red Veggie Penne according to directions, for ten minutes in boiling water.
4Drain well 1/3 cup of pitted Kalamata olives, these can be cut in half if you like. Use a container of crumbled feta, or chopped a good half cup of feta off a larger block, into bite sized pieces. (These flavorful olives add a lot of taste to a salad)
5Using a small dry non-stick fry pan, toast two heaping tablespoons of pine nuts, taking only a minute or two.
6To bring the salad together: In a very large bowl empty the bag of fresh spinach, 4 to 5 ounces. Take the cooked squash and onions and dump on top. Take the very well drained and HOT penne pasta and also lay on top of the spinach, then the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The heat from the vegetables and pastsa will wilt the spinach and cook it down just a bit, so use two very large spoons to mix all these ingredients several times bringing items from the bottom to the top. Generous salt and pepper over all, top with olives, feta and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately with red wine vinegar or dressing on the side for those who like a little more salad dressing coating their greens.