Aegean Macaroni

There are many flavors and ingredients that come to mind when one thinks of the cooking of the countries that rim the Aegean Sea. Herbs such as mint and oregano and the inventive use of spinach, yogurt, and feta cheese are reminiscent of Greece. At the mention of macaroni, there is only one possible association. So what we have here is a delightful Greco-Italian collaboration in a satisfying meatless entree.

1-1/2 cups plain fat-free yogurt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried mint
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 cups (loosely packed) stemmed spinach, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 Place a coffee filter or paper-towel-lined strainer over a bowl and spoon in the yogurt. Let drain for 15 minutes to thicken the yogurt slightly. Discard the whey. Transfer the thickened yogurt to a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch until smooth.
2 In a large pot of boiling water, cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
3 Dry the pasta cooking pot. Add the oil to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in the scallions, garlic, oregano, mint, pepper, and salt, and stir-fry until the scallions are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
4 Add the spinach in handfuls and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the yogurt, and cook, stirring constantly, just until heated through. Do not boil.
5 Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the spinach sauce and feta, and toss to coat well.

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 328 calories, 7.8g total fat (2.8g saturated), 14mg cholesterol, 9.5g dietary fiber, 57g carbohydrate, 12g protein, 334mg sodium.