With this delicious baked dish, Annaliese has created healthy comfort food brimming with flavour and interest. Our spinach gnocchi is paired with a fabulous combination of ingredients including; maple-roasted butternut, juicy pops of cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and topped with crunchy toasted nuts.

Serves 4

250g butternut squash, diced
1 Tbsp Escuminac maple syrup
Salt
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVO)
1 medium brown onion, diced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 tsp Giusti balsamic vinegar
1 jar Sabato basil pasta sauce
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
100g baby spinach
250g Sabato spinach gnocchi
4 Tbsp Sabato pesto alla genovese
1/3 cup whole, raw cashews, Marcona almonds or Pinoli pine nuts
60g mozzarella di bufala (optional) 
Salvagno pitted olives (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Lay the diced butternut onto a baking tray and drizzle with maple syrup. Make sure it’s coating most of the pieces before adding a pinch of salt and baking for 10 minutes in a hot oven. 

Meanwhile heat a little EVO in a pan and fry onion until translucent and soft. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute then add balsamic. After another minute or so add the pasta sauce and cherry tomatoes. Turn the heat down low and cover, making sure it doesn’t burn.

Check the butternut, give it a toss and bake for a further 10 minutes. You want it to be lovely and caramelised.

Blanch spinach in a pot of boiling, salted water for 20 seconds until limp. Remove with tongs so you can keep the water. Add spinach to the dish you're using for the bake. I like to divide it into five or six lovely green mounds.

Use this same water to cook gnocchi for 4 minutes (less than the packet instructions since we are continuing to cook it in the oven). Drain and add to your baking dish.

Take the now slightly reduced tomato, onion sauce off the heat and gently stir through the pesto. Spoon sauce over the gnocchi and spinach. Dot the lovely, sweet butternut throughout, before tossing some cashews or almonds and olives (if using) on top and lastly tear over your fresh mozzarella.

Turn your oven down to 180˚C and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Serve with a healthy amount of a green side like rocket or lightly cooked broccoli.

Recipe by Annaliese Jones

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