Cretan Spinach mac & cheese
- 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.
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