Saturday, February 16, 2008

Florentine Macaroni and Cheese with Turkey Sausage Meatballs

OMG! I feel so sinful after eating this; it was so, so good. I rank this as one of the greats, its right up there with “My Quick Pastitsio”. The best part is that I have leftovers in the fridge!

This is so good I would definitely serve it for company; along with warm, crusty bread and a glass of sauvignon blanc. For dessert, I thing this would pair perfectly with something rich and chocolaty (decadent brownies, chocolate molton cakes, or a chocolate oreo cheesecake).

1 pound corkscrew whole wheat pasta
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
salt and pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and finely chopped or 2 tsp dried
1 teaspoon anise or fennel seeds
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Penzey’s breakfast sausage blend, optional
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 boxes thawed and drained, 10 ounces, chopped frozen spinach
3 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup 1% milk
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, thyme, anise/fennel seeds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, sausage blend, egg, and bread crumbs. Form 8 large round meatballs, about 3 to 4-inches. Arrange on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast 17 to 18 minutes.

Once water has come to a boil, place a small handful of salt in the water and add the pasta to cook to al dente.

While the meatballs roast and pasta boils, in a medium sauce pot add extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the grated Parmigiano and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Add spinach to the sauce.

Strain pasta leaving a couple tablespoons water in the pot for a moist sauce; return pasta to the pot. Add the spinach-white sauce to the pasta pot and stir in cubes of cream cheese. Serve pasta with 2 meatballs per person and extra Parmigiano Reggiano on top.

Recipe adapted from here.

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