One-Pot Penne with Spinach and Feta
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Meanwhile, break up spinach into a medium bowl. With a fork, mix in butter, cheeses, cracker crumbs, oregano, and ¾ teaspoon salt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.