This week's recipe comes from Perfect One-Dish Dinners (HMH) by Pam Anderson, a book that our cooking columnist says is "a fabulous, freeing, foolproof collection of all-in-one main courses." This delicious meal would make a wonderful addition to your weeknight repertoire.

One-Pot Penne with Spinach and Feta

Serves 6 to 8

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

  • 1½ cups dry bread crumbs

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1¾ 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.


Recipes from Perfect One Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers by Pam Anderson. Copyright © 2010 by Pam Anderson. Published in October 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Reprinted by permission.

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