Baked Ziti with Spinach and Veal
Brown veal with carrot, shallots, garlic and sage and simmer in a creamy wine sauce. Add spinach and pasta and finish with two cheeses for a baked casserole now or as a make-ahead meal for later.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 large shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3-4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, very thinly sliced (a small handful of leaves)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- 1 pound ziti, whole wheat pasta or whole grain ziti
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 rounded tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 2 bundles farm spinach, trimmed, washed and dried and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese, such as Fontina Val D’Aosta or 6 ounces Gruyère cheese (eyeball it)
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (eyeball it)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a skillet, heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the ground veal and lightly brown and crumble it, then add the chopped carrot, shallots, garlic and sage and season with salt and a little pepper. Cook to soften the carrot and shallots, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently; add the wine and turn the heat down a bit to simmer gently.
Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water and undercook by 2 minutes less than the package directions.
In a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat, add the butter and melt it, then whisk in the flour for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a bubble and season with more salt than pepper and a few grates of nutmeg. When the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, taste and adjust the nutmeg and pepper to your liking.
Add the spinach to the veal until it is wilted and incorporated, then stir together the pasta, veal mixture and sauce. Pour the mixture into a casserole and top with the cheeses. Cool, cover and store for a make-ahead meal.
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Place the casserole on a baking sheet to catch the drips and bake in a hot oven until brown and bubbly, 35-45 minutes if reheating, 15-20 minutes, if not.