On this day, I’ve decided to cater to both carnivores and vegetarians alike with two opposite, but delectable dishes. For the meat-lovers, we have a Moroccan-Style Lamb & Chickpeas dish, which couples nicely with a Couscous-Arugula Salad. The vegetarian dish is Maltagliati Pasta with Tomatoes and Yogurt.
Taken from Cooking Light, this lamb recipe goes well as either an “all-in-one” meal or if you prefer, they go just as well together when paired independently from one another. You can just as easily substitute other meats (chicken or turkey) for the lamb, but I find lamb to be the best choice because of the bold spices in this recipe. Take or leave the cilantro (I personally love it), as it can be a bit strong for discriminating palates. The addition of the lemon juice at the very end enhances the overall flavor greatly and I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the finished product. Top with feta as to engage in an additional act of gluttony.
Moroccan-Style Lamb & Chickpeas with Couscous-Arugula Salad
Recipe taken from Cooking Light
1 lb. lean ground lamb
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups vertically sliced onion
1/2 cup diagonally cut carrot
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tbsp. tomato paste (or small can)
1 1/2 tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (15 1/2 ounce can) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove lamb from pan with a slotted spoon. Discard drippings. Add oil to pain; swirl to coat. Add onion and carrot to pain; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and pepper; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add reserved lamb, broth, and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas); bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.
The second recipe of the day originates from Carla Bardi’s Simply Delicious Vegetarian cookbook. I can’t pretend to ever actually practice the art of being a vegetarian, but it is certainly nice every once in a while to omit meat completely from your diet for a day or a few meals. Much easier on the digestive tract, amongst other things. This slightly different take on cooking traditional pasta involves three main steps: baking the cherry tomatoes, concocting the sauce, and cooking the pasta al dente prior to mixing everything together as one.
Upon initially glancing at the recipe, I was a bit shocked to read that it called for nearly a pound of spring onions. I later found out that this contributes mightily to the taste of the sauce, even though that seems like a lot at first glance. I really enjoyed the whole process that went along with cooking the tomatoes: from the chopping to the meticulous assembly of the Parmesan cheese, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil on top. The sauce consists of plain yogurt, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed spring onions and I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly these items blended together for a tart, but sapid taste. And cooking pasta is cooking pasta. Nothing to it. Because of the plain yogurt as a base for the sauce, I came away from this feeling lighter than I usually do after engulfing pasta dishes.
Maltagliati with Tomatoes & Yogurt
Recipe taken from Carla Bardi’s Simply Delicious Vegetarian
14 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
14 oz. spring onions, cleaned and sliced in thin wheels
14 oz. quantity fresh maltagliati pasta (or use coarsely chopped fresh lasagne sheets)
1 cup plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the cherry tomatoes cut side up in an ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with half the Parmesan, salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle with half the oil. Bake until the cheese is browned, 15-20 minutes.
Sauté the spring onions in the remaining oil in a large frying pan over low heat for about 7 minutes. Stir in the yogurt and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the yogurt sauce. Toss gently.
Transfer to a heated serving dish, add the baked cherry tomatoes and toss again. Top with a grinding of pepper and serve hot.
Notes for Round 2: More tomatoes and more sauce as the pasta itself is fairly dense.