Greek Ziti with Lamb Ragu
Rach combines a vibrant variety of spices and herbs with lamb, feta and black olives and mixes it with ziti for a fabulous Greek pasta dish.
- 2 tablespoons estra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
- Fine sea salt and black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano or marjoram, leaves finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 small red chili pepper, such as Fresno or cherry, finely chopped
- About 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- A small handful of pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped, or 2 tablespoons black olive tapenade
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- A few grates fresh nutmeg
- 1 pound ziti pasta
- 1/2 pound brick Greek feta cheese, drained and finely crumbled
- A handful each of flat leaf parsley and fresh mint, finely chopped
Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add the EVOO, two turns of the pan, and the lamb; brown the lamb, caramelizing the meat to deep brown. Add lots of black pepper, sea salt, the oregano (or marjoram for a milder taste), garlic, onion, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and chili pepper and cook for 7-8 minutes to soften.
Add the tomato paste and olives (or tapenade) and stir for 30 seconds. Add the wine and deglaze the pan; add the milk and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add nutmeg to taste and simmer the ragù while you cook the pasta.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the hot pot with half of the finely crumbled feta. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add the ragù to the ziti and stir, adding in the pasta cooking water as necessary to move the heavy ragù around the pasta. Serve in shallow bowls topped with the remaining feta and the finely chopped parsley and mint.