Penne with Indian Spiced Lamb and Roasted Butternut Squash

by Kirsten on March 12, 2011 · 19 comments

in Main Dishes, Misc. Savory Dishes, Pasta, Pork & Lamb

The phone rings at 5.30 am in the morning. When a call comes in at odd hours my first thought is always that it’s a call from a family member in Germany and something most have happened. Who else would call? Then I get worried, can’t get back to sleep and have to check the incoming phone number. I feed my dog, make a cup of tea and watch the deer grazing outside.

Luckily this hardly happens but once awake I sit at my desk and think about the plans for the upcoming day. Sometimes I even start looking up a dinner recipe in advance instead of waiting until 30 minutes before dinner when everybody is starving hungry.

I found this Pasta dish with Indian spiced lamb and roasted butternut squash on one of these early mornings while looking through some of my favorite food blogs. It had my attention right away since a butternut squash was sitting on my counter top and I still had ground lamb in my freezer from one of my local farmers.

The butternut squash gets roasted in the oven before it’s added to the browned lamb. This intensifies the flavor and makes it go impeccably well with the lamb, cumin and cinnamon. Indian spiced dishes are among my preferred choices these days. I just love the flavor combination. This dinner was no exception and will be cooked again very soon at my house. Hopefully the decision making won’t have to be made before the sun comes up.


1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (4 to 5 cups)
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces (450 g) ground lamb
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) chopped onions
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (250 ml) canned crushed tomatoes with added puree (from 28-ounce can)
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
8 ounces (450 g) penne pasta
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 cup grated mild (125 ml) parmesan or pecorino (original recipe calls for kasseri)


Preheat oven to 450°. Toss squash with 11/2 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Transfer squash to large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender and brown around edges, using metal spatula to turn occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb and onions; sauté until lamb browns and onions soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, then broth and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in squash. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add lamb mixture, half of cilantro, and half of cheese; toss. Add reserved cooking liquid by 1/3 cupfuls to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and cheese.

Adapted form and

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garlutti April 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Hi …. after solving the problem of pictures from my blog … I can write again and visit your blog .. I like the recipes kISS MARIMI

Lindsey Mendenhall March 16, 2011 at 2:05 am

Thanks for following me Kirsten! I appreciate it. Your pasta makes me salivate every time I see it.

blackbookkitchendiaries March 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm

i really love this recipe! thank you for sharing this and have a great day.

Lindsey Mendenhall March 15, 2011 at 6:39 am

Oh my goodness! A fellow food blog lover here in Douglas County. I live in Arapahoe County actually. By Park Meadows mall. Love your blog! Your photography is awesome. Glad to have found a fellow blogger near by. Just started mine recently and would love any tips from you…check me out at…feel free to follow me…

Raina March 15, 2011 at 1:02 am

I always get nervous when the phone rings early too. This is not only beautiful to look at it sounds delicious with all of those wonderful Indian spices:)

Elisabeth March 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

You would automatically think that the lamb penne dish would be with Greek spices, but instead…Indian spices. Love this dish, and love the spices, simply because I just adore the "kicked up" version of this delicious comforting pasta dish!
Great post, and beautiful presentation, as well!

Nuts about food March 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I hate calls at strange hours. Hope yours turned out to be a harmless mistake. At least your family was graced with this lovely recipe as a result. I love lamb and I love Indian spices. This one is for me.

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE March 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I adore this dish. Lamb is by far my favorite red meat and Indian flavors have a special place in my heart. I actually prepared lamb this week with curried spaghetti squash. Great minds…

HealthnutFoodie March 14, 2011 at 2:57 am

Oh my! Kirsten, this looks amazing! Lamb has been on my to do list for awhile! Thank you for sharing!

My Kitchen in the Rockies March 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm

@ocean: A German here from Denver. Called back to know what happened, but never heard back. Who knows.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes March 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Your home must have smelled delicious! Now I want to know . . . who called? LOL!!!

Lea Ann March 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Except for peeling and dicing that ornery butternut squash, this looks like it's an easy fix. I'm definitely bookmarking this one. Beautiful photos Kirsten!

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle March 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Just beautiful Kirsten! I went many years without eating lamb; I'm sure I had it somewhere and it was too gamey and I didn't try again. That changed a couple of years ago and now it's a favorite.

I've had those phone calls…last one was 3am, daughter was at vet's with a sick dog and needed her mommy (she's 27). I think one day I will be of little help after the initial heart attack!

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) March 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

What a delicious dish you've cooked up! I agree that the spices would complement the lamb perfectly. Great image, by the way.

scrambledhenfruit March 13, 2011 at 6:01 am

Those early morning phone calls are always disconcerting, aren't they? This lamb dish looks amazing though. Great recipe! 🙂

kitchen flavours March 13, 2011 at 4:14 am

Your pasta looks gorgeous and beautiful! My family would love this. Thank you for sharing. Hope that is a wrong number!

Cooking Creation March 13, 2011 at 12:42 am

Beautiful! I bet the butternut squash is a wonderful addition in this dish.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks March 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Kristen-These gorgeous, bright pictures lured me here. I'm sure your family patiently awaits such gourmet dishes.

Karen Harris March 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Beautiful looking dish. This kind of reminds me of the UK with the ground lamb. I hope everything is ok with your family in Germany.

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