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 epicurious.com and loveandolioveoil.com.