Greek Lamb with Orzo

I’ve been slacking on the blog lately. No good excuse. Life happens, and sometimes the paying work has to come first. But never fear, I’m still around, and still cooking!  This recipe was just too good to keep to myself.

I had actually planned to make something else last night, but when I turned on my oven, the smoke and the smell and the burning happened. And the smoke detector went off and chaos ensued. And then I remembered. Scalloped potatoes happened on Easter. I made a delicious batch but filled the pan a tiny bit too much and it bubbled over and dripped everywhere, doing its best to adhere permanently to my oven. Did I feel like cleaning it right then? Of course not! I left it and promptly forgot it was there…until I tried to cook again.

So. Plan B. I had found this recipe on Food52 and was planning to make it later in the week. But it got moved up in the schedule since it can all be cooked on the stove top.

If you haven’t tried cooking with ground lamb, give this one a go. It’s easy to cook, with delicious, savory, wonderful flavor. And it’s got orzo! Who doesn’t love that? If you have olive and/or feta haters (who ARE those people?) among you, you can serve the olives and feta on the side if you prefer.

Greek Lamb & Orzo

Greek Lamb & Orzo

Greek Lamb with Orzo
(from Food52)

1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained and smooshed with your hands (fun!)
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 pound orzo pasta
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta

In a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. 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 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 salted water 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.

The yummy orzo before it gets it's coating of lamb and other goodies.

The yummy orzo before it gets its coating of lamb and other goodies.

Spread the orzo out on a large serving platter or bowl. Spoon the lamb and sauce all over the top, then sprinkle with the feta and chopped olives.  Serves 4-6.

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