RECIPE

Florentine Mac and Cheese and Roast Chicken Sausage Meatballs

Serve with Quick Salad.

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 pound cavatappi corkscrew shaped hallow pasta
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • Black pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed*
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,  (EVOO) divided
  • 2 boxes chopped frozen spinach (10 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F.


Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta to cook to al dente. Strain pasta reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.


While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano – a rounded handful, egg and bread crumbs. *If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of bread crumbs and mix together.


Form 8 large round balls, about 3 to 4-inches. Coat balls in a couple of tablespoons of EVOO and lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon EVOO. Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 17-18 minutes until juices run clear.


Defrost spinach in microwave 8-10 minutes on “defrost” setting depending on the microwave. Place the boxes in a shallow dish to catch any run off.


While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5-6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat on lowest setting.


Wring spinach completely dry in clean kitchen towel then separate as you add it to the sauce. Also add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.


Toss pasta with the spinach-white sauce and adjust seasonings.


Serve Florentine Mac-n-Cheese with 2 meatballs per person along side.

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