Monday, August 25, 2008
The other day I was talking to my sister about basil. I love basil and it is one of the few herbs I have been successful growing on the boat. The problem, however, is that when you get a really good plant going you end up with heaps and heaps of basil (my sister's current problem). More than you can reasonably use. Sure you can add a few leaves to various dishes, but what to do when you are trying to use bulk amounts? A good pesto is delicious, but how about something new? That's when I discovered this dish - Red Pesto Lamb Pasta.
It fit a second requirement of mine as well, and that was to use lamb. There are some great butcher shops selling excellent lamb here in Finike (Turkey), and I like to utilize the local favorites as much as possible. Of course shopping in any foreign country, no matter how "civilized" is difficult. The very first thing I learned when we started traveling was to substitute, substitute, substitute! In this dish I ended up using pistachios instead of pine nuts for the pesto (very recommended), and finely chopped lamb instead of minced lamb.
Red Pesto Sauce
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained chopped
3 cups fresh basil (loosely packed)
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh Romano cheese, grated
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled (or pine nuts)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In blender or food processor; blend together all the ingredients until desired chunkiness. This pesto can be used on hot pasta alone, or is great in the following lamb pasta recipe. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
500 grams (1-lb) lamb, ground
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red peppers (capsicums), deseeded and diced
1/2 recipe red pesto (recipe above, you may also be able to find it in your local grocery store)
400 grams (~14 ounces) can chopped tomatoes
150 grams (~5-6 ounces) dried pasta shapes
Romano or Parmesan cheese for serving.
1. Heat a large frying pan with just a touch of oil. Add the lamb, onion, and garlic and fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the peppers, pesto, and tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Mix into the meat sauce.
The other great thing about this recipe is that it can be frozen. So make a double batch and freeze half for later in the month, or add this to your OAMC (once a month cooking) recipe collection. You can either freeze the sauce alone - cooking the pasta fresh on the night of serving, or freeze it complete with the pasta. If freezing the pasta, slightly under-cook it so that when reheated it will be perfectly al dente and not mushy. Cool completely and freeze in a freezer container or freezer ziplock for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature for a couple of hours, then heat until nice and hot (if using the microwave keep loosely covered). You may need to add a small bit of water during the reheat to keep it nice and moist.