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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pasta with Lamb Sauce

When it comes to lamb, I've arrived to the party fashionably late. I've really only grown to appreciate it in the last 10 years. But today, I adore lamb chops, roast lamb, lamb ragu, and my latest concoction: pasta with lamb sauce.

Pasta with lamb sauce is really a simpler, cleaner tasting ragu -- I omit the tomatoes, celery and carrots. The end result is essentially pasta with ground meat, but it's so much more than that.

Lamb's rustic assertiveness, combined with the sweet shallot and earthy rosemary, makes this a flavorful dish I crave regularly. Its simplicity is its beauty; as much as I love a ragu, I find the tomatoes can mute the aromatics, herbs and the lamb, and lend a certain heaviness. With this version, every flavor bursts through brightly. Give it a try.

Pasta with Lamb Sauce

2 T olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 cloves minced garlic
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
2 T minced fresh rosemary
1.25 pounds ground lamb
1/2 cup dry white wine
Pasta cooking water, if needed
Freshly grated parmesan
3/4 pounds short-cut pasta, such as penne or fusilli (plain, whole wheat or brown rice)

Boil pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain and save up to 1 cup pasta water. Meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add shallots, cook for several minutes until soft, then add garlic. Continue to saute a few more minutes until shallots are lightly browned; add rosemary and stir well to combine.

Add ground lamb and break up to combine. Turn up flame to medium high. When the lamb is slightly pink, deglaze with white wine and allow to reduce for a few minutes. If pan seems dry, add a little pasta water. Add cooked pasta to lamb and combine well. Serve with freshly grated parmesan, a glass of red and a vegetable such as broccoli or asparagus.


  1. I've only made lamb once -- lamb chops. They were wonderful. Before that, I didn't care for lamb. I should start experimenting with it. This looks great.

  2. I was also late to the lamb dinner table, but am liking it more and more.

  3. Yes, it started with lamb chops for me, too. They have a milder flavor -- kind of eases you into it.

  4. Can't wait to try this. I love lamb.