Recipe and Tips
- 3 slices crustless white bread, torn into small pieces
- 9 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 450 g hollow pasta, preferably elbow macaroni or shells
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- 4 cups grated graviera or kefalotyri cheese (about 300 g.)
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large shallots, finely chopped
- 450 g spinach, roughly chopped
- 4 scallions cut into 1/4″-thick rounds
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
- 1 3/4 cups crumbled feta (about 225 g.)
Put bread into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Put bread crumbs and 3 tbsp. butter into a small bowl and combine; set aside. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until cooked halfway through, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Heat remaining butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Still whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in milk and cook until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 10–15 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in graviera, cinnamon, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper; set béchamel sauce aside.
Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a 5 L. pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add spinach and scallions and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved béchamel sauce, the dill, and the reserved pasta and transfer mixture to a 23 cm x 35 cm” baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs and the feta. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Cretan spinach is always really fresh and delicious.