Hello and welcome to Djalali Cooks! I spent a little time watching the local public television channel when we were on Tybee Island, and I came across My Greek Table, a show hosted by Diane Kochilas from Maryland public Broadcasting. I really enjoyed her cooking style; she made classic Greek dishes look simple and amazing. In one of the episodes I saw, she did a Spanakopita Mac and Cheese. Well, I had to try this. Today’s recipe is a little different, it’s a recipe I found on the NY Times Cooking site, but the idea is the same. Today we have a Spanakopita Pasta Bake.
Spanakopita Pasta Bake
This recipe is super easy and so satisfying! There is a ton of flavor from the variety of greens and fresh herbs. And of course, the cheese and creamy sauce! The Rigatoni noodles are perfectly al dente and the pasta that pokes out of the top gets crispy and delicious.
To begin, get the oven preheating to 450 degrees and get a large pot of salted water to boil. Then, we will salt and pepper the chopped greens and herbs and let them naturally wilt a bit. This recipe calls for a total of 8 cups of greens. Four cups arugula and 4 cups of a combination of two leafy greens. If you plan to use chard or regular kale, you will need to remove the tough stems. You can mix whichever two types you like. I have: baby spinach, baby kale and arugula. I am using dill and parsley, but you can either/or, if you like.
Just massage the chopped greens, fresh herbs and the green parts of the scallions with salt in the same baking dish you plan to bake in. Set the greens aside. Then measure out the cheeses and cube up the cream cheese. Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta for 10 minutes. Before draining the noodles, scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve for the sauce. Since we want the pasta a little less than al dente done, you want to see a definable opaque ring around the center of the Rigatoni.
Return the pasta pot to the stove and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced white parts of the scallions and the sliced garlic with a pinch of salt. Sauté until the onions and garlic soften. Then add the cubed cream cheese and pasta water and stir until smooth.
Then let’s add the wilted greens and herb mixture. Then add half the feta and half the mozzarella. Stir to coat the greens and melt the cheese.
Then add the pasta and stir well to thoroughly coat the pasta.
Pour the pasta, greens and cheese mixture in to the baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and feta.
Pop it in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browning.
While this isn’t actual Spanakopita, with it’s flaky pastry layers; the flavors are there. And they work perfectly with pasta. Pasta bakes are easy weeknight meals and this Spanakopita Pasta Bake is refreshing change from tomato-based versions, or straight-up Mac and Cheese.
When I make this again, I think I will add a layer of bread crumbs to the top before baking. Just to get a little more crispy crunch. Even without the breadcrumb topping, this recipe is a keeper! Anytime feta is involved, I’m all in. This is a great vegetarian dish, loaded with greens. You could swap in gluten free or whole grain pasta, if you like.
I love Mediterranean food and Greek cuisine is one of my favorites. My paternal grandmother was Greek, but she never made Greek food. Instead, she always made Mexican dishes, like Tamales for holidays . I suspect this was because she married my grandfather, who was Mexican. But I will never know if she knew any Greek dishes, or if her immigrant parents ever cooked Greek food when she was a girl. Maybe she would have enjoyed watching Diane Kochilas and My Greek Table as much as I do. I haven’t made many Greek dishes, and it’s something I plan to explore here on the blog.
I am so happy you spent some of your Monday with me! Thank you so much for stopping by today. Give me a follow on Pinterest and Instagram, pin and share the recipes! Let me know if you make this dish, and what you think! Take care everyone, be well. xo Kelly
Spanakopita Pasta Bake
Rigatoni makes this pasta bake substantial; it's rich with a creamy sauce; it's fresh and bright with the leafy greens and fresh herbs; and beautifully sharp thanks to the feta.
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 cups Spinach, Swiss chard or other mild greens (tough stems removed), chopped
- 4 cups Arugula, chopped
- 1 cup Fresh dill and/or Parsley Leaves and Stems, chopped
- 6 Scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, whites and dark green parts separated
- 1 lb. Rigatoni or Fusilli
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 oz. Mozzarella, grated or shredded
- 4 oz. Greek Feta, crumbled
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a 9" x 13" baking dish, toss the chopped spinach, arugula, herbs and scallion greens with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Squeeze the mixture with your hands to wilt, then set aside.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until just shy of al dente; reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside. Return the pot to the stove.
Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the scallion whites, garlic and a pinch of salt, and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the cream cheese and pasta water and stir until smooth.
Stir in the wilted greens, half the mozzarella and half the feta until combined.
Stir in the pasta until combined.
Transfer the pasta to the baking dish, then top with remaining mozzarella and feta.
Bake until the sauce has thickened and bubbly and the top has browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stephanie BaileyFebruary 1, 2021 at 8:41 am
We really enjoy My Greek Table! This recipe sounds delicious. The feta cheeses at the store are not creamy like what Diane is using on the show.
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 1, 2021 at 8:57 am
Hi Stephanie, You’re so right. I hadn’t known about Feta being regulated by the Greek Government until Diane was talking about it on her show (her show is sponsored by “Feta”, which I thought was funny, because it’s not a brand, it’s just, Feta. ?). I have come across some truly delicious fetas that I could really taste the difference between. So it makes me want to do a feta tasting! While it’s not Greek feta, have you tried the Israeli feta from Trader Joe’s? It’s quite creamy and not very crumbly. Thanks so much for stopping by today! have a wonderful week! xo Kelly
RheaFebruary 1, 2021 at 9:53 am
This looks wonderful! Feel free to bring on more Greek recipes. I’m in. How about egg lemon soup??
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 1, 2021 at 10:02 am
Hi Rhea, Avgolemono Soup! YES! I have been thinking about this soup lately. Stay tuned, it’s coming soon! Thanks so much for the suggestion and for stopping by today, have a great week and see you here again. xo Kelly
RheaFebruary 1, 2021 at 10:14 am
And I wouldn’t say no to pastitsio either. ;- ) There’s something so comforting about that cinnamon!
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 1, 2021 at 12:28 pm
Oh yes, Rhea, for sure!
MaryFebruary 1, 2021 at 12:06 pm
Wow! Another great looking recipe. I recently made your Spatchcock Chicken recipe and your Cioppino recipe. They both easy to make and very delicious. I also liked that the ingredients were available in our small town store but the results were something special and adventurous for both myself and my husband. I have made spanakopita with my Greek daughter-in-law and look forward to trying your spin on it. Thanks for another great recipe!
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 1, 2021 at 12:31 pm
Hi Mary! Thanks so much. I am so happy you enjoyed the Cioppino and the Spatchcock Chicken. I love the feeling of trying something adventurous and realizing that it’s not especially challenging. Thank you so much for writing in to me know you’ve made the recipes and that they were a hit with you and your husband! have a great week, xo Kelly
RoseannaFebruary 1, 2021 at 2:39 pm
I love the way you explain, pictures you show along the way. Recipes great with the ones I have tried so far.
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 1, 2021 at 4:38 pm
Hello Roseanna, I am so glad you are enjoying the blog and the recipes. Thank you so much for writing in, I love to hear from you! See you again here soon, xo Kelly
SheilaFebruary 1, 2021 at 7:31 pm
I was happy to see this recipe this morning as I had all of the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. I had a bag of greens and some fill and parsley that I didn’t know what I would do with them.
This went together so easily and was delicious. As we are a small family I divided into two pans, one for the freezer. The only change was that I added a half cup of water in addition to the pasta water.
We had this with some ground lamb from our farmer’s market.
All good from the Covid pantry.
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 1, 2021 at 7:56 pm
Hey Sheila! That’s great, I am so happy you made this one. I just love it when I have all the ingredients for something! The addition of ground lamb sounds like a great one. Thanks so much for writing in to let me know you made it! Have a wonderful evening, xo Kelly
SuzanneFebruary 1, 2021 at 10:56 pm
OK, I’ll have to try this. I have made spanakopita with phyllo before but this sounds fabulous. I will pin this and try it soon. How do people think of these fabulous combinations? I love it! 😉
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 2, 2021 at 8:11 am
So much easier than phyllo, Suzanne! This was honestly, one of my most favorite pasta bakes ever! Thanks so much for stopping by Suzanne, see you here soon! xo Kelly
DeniseFebruary 2, 2021 at 1:18 am
Have all these ingredients on hand and this looks easy and delicious, plus we love Greek dishes. Now if I only could do a great falafel like the place in our former town. Enjoy your blog!
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 2, 2021 at 8:13 am
Hi Denise, falafel is on my list for sure! Let me know how you like this bake, I am sure you’ll enjoy it. Have a great week and thanks so much for stopping by! xo Kelly
MaryFebruary 4, 2021 at 9:01 pm
Made this tonight for dinner, it was wonderful! Took your suggestion and topped with panko bread crumbs. Yum!
Kelly DjalaliFebruary 4, 2021 at 10:06 pm
Hi Mary! I am so happy you made this one! Love that you topped with bread crumbs. I am definitely going to do that next time. Thanks for writing in to let me know it was hit! Take care, xo Kelly