Have you ever heard kids cheering joyfully to the sound of the word “spinach”? If not, it’s only because they’ve never tasted this delicious penne pasta with spinach & feta cheese dish. I’ve been making it for my family for some years now, and it’s the only way my children will eat spinach. But more than that, it’s a great idea for a dinner party; friends will love it too and it’s quite convenient to make, as it can be prepared well ahead of time.
Here are a few tips for you. When cooked, the chopped spinach will stick into one maze; to spread it evenly in your dish, first mix it with half the pasta and the heavy cream . Also, please do not miss that pinch of nutmeg (just a pinch is enough). With its nutty flavor, nutmeg is the absolute compliment to spinach. Last, feta is a salty cheese and so is Parmesan; so make sure not to oversalt the pasta water, or the spinach.
Here is the recipe, and don’t be intimidated by the many measurings. I guarantee that the result will be the same even if the quantities are a bit off!
- 1 pack penne pasta (about 17 ounces or 500 g)
- 1 pack frozen chopped spinach, thawed (about 9 ounces or 255 g)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 cups (about 250 g) crumbled Greek Feta Cheese, preferably DODONI
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream (about 300 ml)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce/marinara
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoon Greek Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt & pepper
Prepare the tomato/marinara sauce. In a small sauce pan, cook for 10 minutes the tomato sauce with salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and sugar.
Prepare the spinach. In a small non-stick pan, heat one tablespoon olive oil and cook thawed spinach until all liquids have evaporated. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic. Cook until garlic turns golden, about one more minute or so.
Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and return half the quantity into the pasta cooking pot, retain the other half in the strainer.
Assemble the dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Mix the cooked spinach with 1/4 cup heavy cream and with half the pasta in the cooking pot. Transfer to a baking dish (12 x 8.5 inches – 30 x 22 cm).
Add the feta cheese and 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese on top of the first pasta layer.
Add the remaining pasta, then the tomato sauce, the remaining heavy cream and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for about 40 min. and serve immediately.
This is how it looks straight out of the oven. Enjoy!