One-Pot Penne with Spinach and Feta

fit_onepotpenne

Recipe By Pam Anderson from "Perfect One-Dish Dinners"

These highly-seasoned spinach "meat"balls will appeal to both vegetarians and carnivores alike. Although the balls tend to fall apart when heated the second time, leftovers are still wonderful.

Yield: 6-8 people

Course:

Ingredients

  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, 3 left whole, 5 minced
  • 4 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (generous 4½ ounces), plus more for topping
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ cups dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound penne pasta

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 whole garlic cloves and toast until spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Remove garlic from skillet, smash, and mince.
  2. Meanwhile, break up spinach into a medium bowl. With a fork, mix in butter, cheeses, cracker crumbs, oregano, and ¾ teaspoon salt.
  3. Mix eggs and minced toasted garlic together and stir into spinach mixture with fork until thoroughly combined. Using a 2-tablespoon measure, such as a coffee scoop, form mixture into about 36 balls.
  4. Coat a large heavy roasting pan with 2 tablespoons oil. Add spinach balls and roast in oven until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  5. Add remaining ¼ cup oil, pepper flakes and remaining 5 minced garlic cloves to roasting pan and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, a couple of minutes. Add wine and simmer to reduce by half, about a minute. Add tomatoes and enough water to make a saucelike consistency.
  6. Bring to a simmer, add spinach balls and reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, loosely covered with heavy-duty foil, to blend flavors, 10 to 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add 6 cups water and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and return to a simmer.
  7. Add penne, cover loosely with foil and cook, stirring gently and frequently, until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Serve, sprinkling each portion with feta cheese.
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