Serves a Crowd

Crispy Spiced Lamb and Creamy Yogurt Pasta

February  7, 2018
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 6
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.

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lynn
  • laura
  • Hollyanne
  • Niknud
  • EmilyC

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

13 Reviews

Lynn November 29, 2018
I made this tonight for company, and it was a total success. I tend to like lots of spice, so added more of each (and couldn't decide which paprika, so added 1 tsp hot, 1 tsp mild, and a couple of pinches of smoked. I'm a ditherer sometimes.) I was also slightly more generous with the (yellow) raisins, as Karma I. mentioned below. I used the trofie I had in the pantry, and they worked beautifully. And the sauce? The 10% Greek yogurt I used was perfect; the lemon and pasta water cut the richness. I will definitely be making this again!
Lynn November 29, 2018
Oh! And I skipped the peas. Half the company is not fond. :-) It was still memorable.
EmilyC November 30, 2018
So glad you liked this Lynn! I love trofie pasta—good call on using it!! Thanks for your trying this and your feedback!
Karma I. September 26, 2018
This was very good; however, very rich. I definitely used more of the pasta water to thin everything out, but using a low-fat Greek yogurt would make a big difference. I also used yellow raisins and added in about a 1/2 cup vs. the 1/4 cup. Really like the contrast of the lamb with the sweetness of the raisins. Topped with scallions and some extra parsley and it was a fulfilling and satisfying dinner! Looking forward to how it tastes tomorrow for lunch-

P.S. Agree with EmilyC on using spinach vs. peas. Going to try pea shoots for lunch and see how that works.
mxj March 15, 2018
This was so delicious! LOVE the spice profile of the lamb. I will double or 1.5x the amount of lamb next time I make this.
EmilyC March 16, 2018
So happy to hear this! Thanks for trying it and letting me know!
laura February 23, 2018
This was delicious - love the lamb/yogurt/pasta combination. Super easy too. Thanks!
EmilyC February 23, 2018
So glad you made and liked it—thanks for letting me know!
Hollyanne February 22, 2018
I just really don't care for peas - would you recommend anything to replace them?
EmilyC February 22, 2018
Hi Hollyanne -- you can just leave the peas out! I've made this before without them--good either way! One time I added lots of chopped spinach--that was nice, too.
James H. September 19, 2020
I’m not a big fan of peas either, childhood memories, sorry mom, you were great but you blew that one. Anyway I digress, when recipes call peas I’m quick to replace them with shelled edamame. Great protein source as well.
Niknud February 22, 2018
Ermahgawd this looks amazing! It's 10 in the morning and I'm fantasizing about dinner already....
EmilyC February 22, 2018
Ha!—that’s the best time to start fantasizing about dinner! : )