Now that we put the clocks ahead 1 hour and it is starting to feel a lot like Springtime out here in the Rockies I figure it’s time for some new Spring flavors. The orzo is just delicious and has a real mediterranean feel. I made this delicious dish which has real “Greek” flavor and if you’re looking for something new to make this could be the one. This dish was a wonderful and fragrant meal with delicious spices , lemons and feta cheese. I realize that there are people out there who are opposed to eating lamb and I get that and am not trying to convince you to eat it but I think that this dish was intended for lamb because of the distinct flavoring of the lamb. You can definitely tweak this recipe to your liking, I added the black olives to my dish at the end because Joel really doesn’t like olives of any kind. ( his loss). Tzaziki sauce would be perfect served alongside, and I have a recipe for that on my blog as well (look under A Taste of India and Greece posted on September 13 ’11) . You can also make and freeze the lamb portion which is always a plus to me. I love the flavors that went into making this and while I realize that this recipe is a bit time-consuming it is well worth the effort. When you smell the mix of spices in your kitchen simmering alongside the lamb you will understand what I mean. This should serve 4 beautifully as a main dish, maybe you can stretch to 6. Enjoy!
I have to give credit to FOOD52 for this recipe, I made a few tweaks myself but the original version comes from there.
1 lb. ground lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 average size yellow onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, drained and smooshed with your hands
14 ounce can of chopped/diced tomatoes
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
*optional 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped — serve alongside in a separate bowl if you’re not certain everyone will like them
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lb. orzo pasta
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed please ( app. 1 average lemon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a good sized Dutch Oven type of pot heat one tablespoon olive oil ( by the way I always spray with Pam first for easier cleaning) . Heat the one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering. Add the lamb and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill. Cook, stirring to break up the lamb until it is nicely browned. Remove the lamb when cooked through with a slotted spoon to a separate bowl .
Add the onion and garlic to the pot , cook on medium heat , stirring occasionally, until onions and garlic are softened and onions are transparently golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices (cinnamon, oregano, cumin, coriander, and red pepper) and cook until they are fragrant , about 2 minutes. Then stir in the smooshed tomatoes. ( I placed a strainer in sink, drained the can of San Marzano whole tomatoes and with my clean hands smooshed up tomatoes, it’s actually fun).
Cook the smooshed tomatoes in the spices, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes. Then add the can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.
Add the cooked lamb back to the pot, give it a good stir, cover the pot and leave it to cook, stirring and tasting for salt every once in a while, cook for about 1/2 hour.
After 1/2 hour , you can stir in the fresh spinach and cook for a few minutes till spinach is wilted. I only used 1/2 the spinach because Joel really doesn’t love spinach, if I wasn’t making it for him I would have added whole amount. Taste for salt but keep in mind you will be adding cheese and olives which will add saltiness.
While the lamb and tomatoes are simmering away, cook the orzo in a separate pot of well-salted water. Cook orzo until al dente and reserve a cup of the pasta water . I added pasta water to the orzo and a little to the sauce as well.
Drain the orzo and toss the orzo with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and the parsley, you may want to add some pasta water to this as well if you feel it needs additional liquid.
I served in individual shallow bowls placing the orzo first and spooning the lamb mixture on top. I then sprinkled with feta and olives on my bowl and just feta on Joel’s bowl. Serve hot.
Pour a nice glass of red wine and relax and enjoy.
2 tablespoons olive oil