Greek Lamb with Orzo
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 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 ounces can of whole tomatoes, drained
- 14 ounces can of chopped/diced tomatoes
- 5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 2 cups chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- In a good sized Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan, 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 salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Cook, stirring to break it apart, until it is nicely browned. Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.
- Return the pot to the stove top and add the onion and garlic (still over medium-high). Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices (cinnamon, oregano, cumin, coriander, and red pepper) and cook until they start smelling extremely toasty and fragrant (1-2 minutes). Then, stir in the smooshed tomatoes.
- Cook the smooshed tomatoes in the spices, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Then, add the can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Add the cooked lamb back to the pot, give a good stir, then cover the pot and leave it to cook, stirring from time to time, for 20 minutes. At this point, stir in the fresh spinach and cook just a couple more minutes until the spinach is wilted. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind you’ll be sprinkling just a touch of feta and olives on, which will add to the saltiness).
- While the lamb and tomatoes are simmering together and marrying their flavors, bring a large pot of well-salted water (it should taste like sea water, basically) to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 7 or 8 minutes, usually. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Drain the orzo. Toss the orzo with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, and all of the parsley, adding a bit of pasta water at a time, if you feel it needs additional liquid.
- Spread the orzo out on an enormous serving platter. Spoon the lamb and sauce all over the top, then sprinkle with the feta and chopped olives.
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