Aired January 16, 2008
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground veal, beef or chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess water
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
A few grates fresh nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it up to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and reserve in the pot it was cooked in.
While the pasta is cooking, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons EVOO, about 2 turns of the pan. Add the ground meat to the pan and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until evenly browned throughout, about 6-7 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and continue cooking until the onion has softened, 6-7 minutes. Add the spinach and cook about 1 minute to heat through, then season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the onions are cooking, place a medium-size pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook the mixture for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture and cook until the liquid has thickened up. Season the sauce with nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the meat-onion mixture and the sauce to the pot with the cooked pasta and stir to evenly combine. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Place the dish under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
While the casserole is browning up, prepare your favorite side salad and serve it alongside the pasta bake.