Abundant with distinctive Mediterranean flavors, this is comfort food at its best. It's hearty and nutritious; and the creamy-textured, buttery-tasting beans make the dish oh, so satisfying. Your family will clamor for seconds -- guaranteed. For the best flavor and consistency, use canned diced Italian-style plum tomatoes.
8 ounces penne (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup minced shallots
Two 14 ½-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice
One 19-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
4 cups coarsely shredded fresh spinach leaves (about 4 ounces); remove and discard stems, then shred leaves
Freshly ground pepper and crumbled feta cheese for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add the penne. When the water returns to a boil, stir occasionally to separate the penne. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until al dente, about 12 to 14 minutes or according to package instructions.
While the penne is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots; cook, stirring constantly, until tender but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with juice, beans, fresh or dried oregano, and pepper. Increase the heat to high; cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 4 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low; stir in the spinach. Cover and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. When the penne is done, drain well. Add to the sauté pan, and stir the mixture gently over low heat just until heated through. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Covered and refrigerated, this dish will keep for up to 1 day. Reheat, stirring gently, over low heat or in the microwave.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.