Adapted from a recipe I found in a recent issue of the Australian magazine ‘New Idea’. This recipe is strong on lemon flavouring so if strong citrus flavourings are not your scene, you may like to add ½ teaspoon nutmeg to the yoghurt topping instead of the lemon zest. I haven’t yet had the chance to make this recipe, but I didn’t want to risk misplacing it (little chance of that: I’ve adapted it to my liking already!), so I’m posting it here for safe-keeping. I’m absolutely intrigued – and excited - by the idea of a yoghurt topping: a healthier creamy topping! WOW! I’m always keen to double quantities of recipes like this one so as to freeze some dinners both for those inevitably busier evenings and for great take-to-work lunches. Freezing details have been included here. The canned tomatoes I use (Italian) have very little juice. If your canned tomatoes have a lot of juice, you may like to drain them. You can always add a bit of what’s been drained off, though I’m always keen to make some space for a bit of wine!
- 250 g rigatoni pasta or 250 g penne or 250 g ziti pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 -3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 500 g ground lamb, minced lamb (for Australians)
- 1 tablespoon herbs (oregano, sage, thyme, basil, mint, according to taste preferences)
- 1⁄2 cup kalamata olive, pitted
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 2 (410 g) cans tomatoes, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup red wine, such as merlot (optional)
- salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- rocket or baby spinach leaves, to garnish
- 500 g Greek yogurt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, see alternative in the notes (above)
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water until just tender, and drain.
- Heat oil in pan, sauté onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they have softened; remove from the onion and garlic mixture from the pan.
- Add the lamb to the same pan in batches until the lamb is browned; depending on the size of the pan, you may need to brown one batch of lamb at a time.
- Add herbs, olives, zucchini and tomatoes and bring to the boil; if adding wine, allow the liquid to reduce before adding the wine.
- Add the pasta to the pan and mix well.
- Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Spoon pasta mixture into a large ovenproof, freezer-proof (if you are planning to freeze this dish) 10 cup capacity dish, or into several smaller dishes.
- Pour the topping over the mixture and sprinkle with parmesan.
- Cook in a moderate oven (180°C) for about 45 minutes or for a shorter time if you have used several smaller dishes.
- Serve with rocket or baby spinach leaves.
- To Freeze: make the recipe to the end of step 8. Cool for 15 minutes, cover with plastic wrap, label and freeze for up to 2 months.
- To Serve: Thaw the pasta in its dish in the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, place the dish on an oven tray, cover it tightly with foil and bake in a moderate oven ((180°C) for about 30 minutes. Remember, if you have used a smaller dish for a smaller quantity, it will not require as long for reheating. Serve with rocket or baby spinach leaves.