Mediterranean Penne Pasta
Mediterranean penne pasta with spinach, red peppers, feta cheese, and pine nuts tossed in a garlicky bercy sauce. Freezes and reheats well, and amazingly delicious.
- 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 shallot
- 9 garlic cloves divided
- 1 cup white wine chardonnay or pinot grigio, preferably
- 1/3 cup butter unsalted
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup stock chicken or vegetable
- 8 oz spinach frozen cut leaf may be substituted
- 1 bell pepper red, sliced
- 2 oz pine nuts
- 1 lb penne
- 5 oz feta divided
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 T olive oil. Add 4 smashed cloves of garlic (no need to mince) and one peeled, quartered shallot. Add a pinch of salt. Sauté for 1 min and add white wine. Cook until wine is reduced to 1/3-1/2 original volume and no alcohol smell remains.
Make a roux: melt butter over medium heat. Do not brown. Once melted, stir in flour. Stir continuously 2-3 min, then add stock in 1/4 cup increments until sauce has thinned to a stew-like consistency. Stir very frequently. Reserve remaining stock.
Strain reduced wine through a fine mesh sieve. Push on aromatics with the back of a wooden spoon to extrude any remaining flavor from them, and discard contents of sieve. Stir wine into roux/stock mixture. Turn heat down to lowest setting and stir occasionally while moving on to next steps. Add additional stock as needed to keep from becoming too thick.
Vegetables and Pine Nuts
Place large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1T olive oil. Add spinach, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes until all wilted. Add more oil if spinach starts to stick. Once spinach is wilted, add 2 cloves finely minced garlic. Cook an additional 1 min. Spoon spinach into fine mesh sieve and press against it with the back of a wooden spoon to remove excess liquid. Set aside in a large bowl.
In same pan, add another 1T olive oil. Add sliced red pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. Sauté 5 in or until tender. Add to bowl with spinach.
Heat small, clean, dry frying pan over medium heat. Add pine nuts. Toast, shaking pan horizontally every 30 seconds or so, until they begin to brown. Remove to small bowl.
Pasta and Assembly
Bring large pot of water to a rapid boil. Salt. Add penne pasta. Cook according to package directions until desired done-ness. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
Add 1 T olive oil to large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add 4 oz crumbled feta cheese and 3 cloves finely minced garlic. Stir until feta begins to melt. Add 1 ladle of bercy sauce and stir to incorporate. Continue to add sauce incrementally and stir until cheese is melted (small pieces are fine). Taste, add salt and pepper if needed.
Mix spinach and red pepper into feta sauce. Stir to coat. Add 1/2 c reserved pasta water. Add drained noodles. Toss/stir to coat. Taste again, season if needed.
Portion pasta into individual bowls. Top each with pine nuts and a bit of crumbled feta. Serve with bread and a salad or roasted green vegetable.