Crispy Spiced Lamb and Yogurt Pasta

By EmilyC
February 7, 2018
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Author Notes: This hearty, boldly flavored pasta is inspired by several Ottolenghi recipes and Diana Kochilas’ Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions. It’s cozy yet feisty, familiar yet exciting, one that engages all of the senses. The crispy lamb is a perfect foil to the creamy pasta (and a welcome shift from standard saucy ragus). Leftovers are great, too. The texture of the pasta is different (and equally delicious) on Day 2 since the pasta slurps up some of the yogurt sauce and gets a little crispy around the edges when reheated.

Serves: 6

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (smoked or regular)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 pound pasta (conchiglie or medium shells)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (2% or full-fat recommended)
  • Finely grated zest + juice from 1 small lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until tender and golden, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Mix together cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and Aleppo in a small bowl. Push onions to one side and add spice mix (adding a little more oil if the pan is dry). Toast spices for about 30 seconds, then stir together the spices and the onions until well integrated.
  2. Add lamb, tomato paste, pine nuts, raisins, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook and stir for another 6 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink. Tilt the skillet and spoon off any excess fat (leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan), then spread the lamb in an even layer, and continue to cook, pressing down firmly and stirring just once or twice, until the lamb is brown and crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Turn down the heat if the lamb starts to burn.) Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, add pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente. As the pasta cooks, mix together Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the pasta water until smooth. In the last three minutes of cooking time, add frozen peas to the pasta. Drain the pasta and peas (reserving another 1/4 cup of water), return to the pot, and toss with yogurt mixture and parsley. Add more cooking water, if needed, to reach your desired consistency. Add salt to taste, and a little more lemon juice if desired.
  4. Put yogurt pasta in a large serving dish. For best texture and presentation, I like to gently fold a few spoonfuls of the crispy lamb into the pasta (don’t thoroughly mix) and then top the pasta with the remaining lamb. Serve warm.

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