Friday, January 21, 2011

Pasta With Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, in 1/2 -inch cubes

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, more to taste

3 fat garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, minced

1 pound ground lamb

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Turkish or Aleppo (see note), more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill, more to taste

1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta

2 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, to taste

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.

2. Toss eggplant with 4 tablespoons oil and a large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet, making sure there is room between pieces, and roast until crisp and brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and the shallot and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lamb, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Sauté until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in mint or dill and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir eggplant into lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter: the amount is to your taste. Let cook until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt.

5. Drain pasta and spread on a serving platter. Top with lamb-eggplant mixture, then with yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Sprinkle on additional red pepper and more mint or dill. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

Note: Turkish or Aleppo (Syrian) red pepper flakes are sold at specialty markets and at You may also substitute ground chili powder. Do not use crushed red pepper flakes; they will be too hot for this dish.

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