Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Greek "Spanakopita" Spaghetti and Meatballs

My boys LOVE, LOVE, LOVE pasta.  They really don't care how it comes as long as it involves pasta.  However, they have a strong aversion to anything green.  So when I stumbled upon this recipe for a Greek-style pasta dish and I just had to try it, even if it had a lot of green.  I think what drew me in was the Feta cheese.  You see I've discovered this new love affair with Feta.  I'm not quite sure what kicked it off but we've been putting Feta deliciousness on just about everything coming out of our kitchen for the past week.  Creamy, salty, tangy, yumminess!!!

So tonight, I nervously prepped all of the ingredients for this new dish.  I rarely make homemade meatballs and I had never made a creamy pasta dish on my own before.  I have to say if you get all of the prep work done ahead of time, this recipe is a breeze!  From start to finish it was about a 45 minute dish, which probably could have been faster if I wasn't so nervous.  :)

I promise you that this recipe will not disappoint!  And if you have picky kiddos, you might be surprised by how much spinach they will willingly eat when it is surrounded by pasta.  Enjoy - and let me know what you think!

For the meatballs:
1 lb of ground lean ground beef
1 Tbs of lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic - grated

1/2 Tbs of fresh mint minced
1/2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 tsp of red chili flakes
1/4 cup of bread crumbs

2 Tbs of milk
salt and pepper to taste  

For the Pasta Sauce:
1/2 medium onion chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic - grated
1 cup of milk (whole)
1 cup of chicken broth 

1 Tbs of fresh mint minced
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste)
4oz of crumbled Feta
4oz of onion and chive cream cheese 
1lb of frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed) 

Preparation Instructions:
  1. Cook 1 lb of pasta according to instructions.  Cook just shy of done since pasta will cook more in the sauce.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water in case it is needed for the sauce. 
  2. Mix ingredients for meatballs - beef, lemon juice, garlic, mint, oregano, red chili flakes, bread crumbs, milk, salt, & pepper.  Shape into meatballs and cook in a large skillet with 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.  When meatballs are browned, removed from skillet to a plate.  
  3. With the remaining oil and drippings from cooking the meatballs, saute onion.  When onions are softened, add garlic and cook for another minute.  
  4. Next, create the sauce for the pasta dish by adding the milk, chicken broth, mint, oregano, chili flakes, Feta, and cream cheese to the onion & garlic mixture in the skillet.  Cook, over medium heat, until the Feta and cream cheese have melted into the sauce.  Add the meatballs and any drippings from the plate where they were reserved.  And finally, add the spinach and then taste for seasoning.  Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Finally, add the cooked pasta to the sauce.  If needed, thin the sauce with the reserved pasta water. 
    Adapted from Curry and Comfort post found here: