Prep 1 hr 15 mins
Cook 30 mins
From Chef Nora Pouillon, chef-owner of Washington, D.C. restaurants Nora and Asia Nora.
- 1 lb macaroni
- 1⁄2 lb spinach, washed and stemmed
- 1 1⁄2 lbs crumbled feta cheese (about 6 cups)
- 2 1⁄2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2⁄3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 3⁄4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1⁄2 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 1⁄2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1⁄4 cup mixed chopped fresh herb (such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary)
- Preheat oven to 350°; bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil; add in macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes until al dente; drain and place in a large bowl.
- To blanch the spinach: bring 4 quarts salted water to a simmer over med-high heat; have ready a large bowl of ice water and a slotted spoon; add spinach to simmering water (in three or 4 batches) and submerge it.
- Let cook about 15 seconds, remove with the slotted spoon, and plunge into the ice water; let spinach cool completely, drain it, and squeeze out the excess water; if the leaves are large, chop them into bite-sized pieces; set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the feta cheese with the milk, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper (blend in two batches, if needed); this will not be completely smooth; there will be very small chunks of cheese remaining.
- Stir the cheese mixture into the cooked macaroni; then add the minced rosemary and thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes, olives, cherry tomatoes, and blanched spinach.
- Transfer mixture to a 13x9 inch baking dish; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and the mixed herbs.
- Bake on the middle shelf 25-30 minutes until the pasta is heated through and the top is slightly browned.
This was very tasty. I made the cheese sauce in the morning, and had the other ingredients prepped, so all I had to do when I came home was to cook the macaroni and mix it all together. Half the recipe fit into my 10 in pie dish, and I think would have served 4 to 5 - I think the full recipe should provide for 8 to 10 people. I used a good handful of dill instead of the rosemary, and had only dried thyme, which I mixed in with the milk and cheese in the morning. I forgot to buy cherry tomatoes, but had some very nice plum tomatoes which I diced. I may have used a bit more spinach, cooked it and drained in a colander, squeezed and then cut up with scissors right in the colander. I left it there to drain further, and then squeezed out more liquid before adding to the pasta and cheese sauce. Feta, of course, does not melt, so that the mac and cheese is a bit looser than that made with cheddar, but that does not take away from the taste.
I made this fabulous dish for the first time tonight. I halved the recipe and two of us ate only 1/3 of it so it goes a very long way and could feed a crowd.I followed the recipe fairly carefully though I did add some dried oregano, as well. So amazing! I'll make it again. And yet again.
Outstanding! I simplified, cut down on the amount of olive oil and number of ingredients to get the creamy dish I wanted. Also, used oregano instead of the other herbs and added more garlic. This recipe adaptable, based on taste/what you've got on hand - and isn't that the definition of a really good recipe?