Thursday, October 13, 2011

Turkish Style Lamb and Vegetables with Pasta and Yogurt Sauce

This is totally different from any other pasta dish I've ever made, and it's fantastic. It hits a flavor profile that I normally associate only with food I eat in restaurants - but it's pretty easy to make at home. This is adapted from this recipe that was published the New York Times a couple years ago.

1 large eggplant, in 1/2 inch cubes
2 sweet red peppers, diced
Olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb stew lamb, well trimmed (or shoulder meat, cubed)
Black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tsp dried dill, or 1-2 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped
1 lb cut pasta (shells work well)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (or dill or cilantro)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Toss the eggplant and peppers in a bowl with about 1/2 tsp salt and a drizzle of olive oil until well coated. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may want to line it with foil or parchment) and roast for about 20 minutes, or until nicely brown. Remove from oven.

While the vegetables roast, add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to a Dutch oven. Add the shallots and all but 1 tsp of the minced garlic and saute for about 2 minutes. Then add the lamb and saute until well browned and cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste, red pepper flakes, and dill. Let this mixture continue to cook over very low heat until the vegetables are ready.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water. When it is cooked, drain and toss with a little olive oil.

When the eggplant and pepper are done roasting, add them to the Dutch oven with the lamb mixture. When the pasta is done, toss it with the lamb and vegetables until well combined.

Before serving combine the yogurt and mint in a bowl with the reserved 1 tsp of minced garlic. Add a dash of salt and stir well (it will thin somewhat).

Serve the pasta, with each diner topping his or her portion with some of the yogurt sauce at the table.

Serves 4-6.

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