Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lamb Ragù

-with Orecchiette and Sautéed Garlic Broccoli Rabe

Oh, you guys are going to love me. Actually, let me rephrase that- if you have some ground lamb on hand or can find some at the store, you are going to love me. 

This sauce hits it out of the park! It's savory. It's spicy. It doesn't taste like my usual pasta sauce, thanks to ingredients seldom used such as lamb, coriander, and mint. I always, always, always think that I hate mint in savory foods. I think that's because mint has always tasted overpowering to me. I remember one year when the hubby and I were in Cincinnati visiting his cousin and his wife, and I ordered lamb chops with mint jelly at a fancy steakhouse. The lamb chops? Amazing and to-die-for. The mint jelly? It tasted like toothpaste on top of my lamb. Sick. Have no fear friends, there's not enough mint in this recipe to evoke any images of a masked man sticking sharp tools into your uncomfortably stretched mouth while simultaneously trying to engage you in conversation. 

Side note- why do dentists to that??

I'll never know. 

But back to the ragù- I assure you, the mint is very balanced. There's not enough to overpower anything, only enough to enhance the other flavors. And that folks, is the only way to season with mint. 

As I was contemplating what to name this dish- because there was a point in time that I wondered if this was indeed a ragù- I decided to keep the name. After googling the definition, I'm confident this is indeedragù. The basic definition of a ragù is that it's a sauce that is more meat-based than tomato-based. I can confirm that that is exactly what this sauce is. It's very hearty and will satisfy the meatiest of meat-eaters. 

I made mine with the last 3 cups of marinara from last summer (sob!). I need to make 3-times as much marinara this summer! You can substitute your favorite store-bought marinara if you do so desire. I have to add that the flavor of the sauce is greatly enhanced by homemade marinara, but we all do what we have time for, right?


First, I browned the lamb with a little bit of spicy sausage before adding the chopped onion and garlic to the pot. 

After that whole mix has softened, you add the marinara, diced tomatoes, spices, and a little booze. Red wine to be exact!

And then let that sauce simmer. Just try to keep yourself from taste-testing at this point. I dare ya :-)

The Broccoli rabe is easy. If you've never tried Broccoli rabe before, I highly recommend it. The hubby and I thought it tasted like a cross between broccoli and asparagus. Delicious! You might also see it labeled at the store as "rapini". 

I put the rapini in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, and then I immediately plunged it into a bowl of ice water. This preserves that bright green color that is soooooo important to my success of getting the hubby to eat veggies. He loves a bright green, tender-crisp, seasoned veggie. That's how I get him to eat them. 

After the rapini is cold, drain the stalks into a colander and slightly dry them. 

All that's left to do is to heat some olive oil in a skillet. Toss in some garlic and toast for 30 seconds before you add the broccoli rabe. You'll only need to sauté the rapini for a minute or two, just until they are warm. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

That's it! This side dish is so easy, I made it while the sauce was simmering.

Are you good at eyeballing pasta servings? I'm awful. That meme you've probably seen floating around FaceBook that says "Hey, want to come over for spaghetti? I made enough pasta for 20 people!"? Yep, that's me. Needless to say, I still use a scale to measure pasta. 

The only thing you need now? Cheese!

A delicious, and fairly fast dinner everyone will love!

Now, to change the subject-

Going back to my 2016 goal of authenticity, I now have to admit how easy and insidious it can be to slip back to a place where I feel like I can't share. That my truth isn't peppy enough for a food blog. And today, I'm going to try to shake that off.

My back injury has definitely affected me in ways I didn't see coming. I'd been feeling so good for a couple of years with therapy that it didn't occur to me that I could backslide. And running has been a huge part of helping me feel so much better. I've read that strenuous exercise is one of the best ways for people with mood disorders to help regulate their moods. I can't tell you how true this is. I'm really struggling with my depression along with this injury. 

The hubby keeps reminding me this is temporary. I know that. It's just that this process has been so slow. I've been struggling with this back pain since August of 2014. After trying everything on my own to heal, in January of 2015 I sought help. I began physical therapy in February and went through the end of April. I was able to get back to feeling about 90%. But never completely healed. Back to the doctor in August of last year. 

By October, I'd had a MRI. It took 3 months to get an appointment with a neurosurgeon who recommended steroid shots. After 2 of the 3 scheduled steroid shots, it was realized they weren't helping. While I was supposed to get into another neurosurgeon right away, that appointment was cancelled and moved to the end of this month.

Right now, it feels like the pain is getting worse. Before these last 2-3 weeks, I had only had a few incidents of pain radiating down my back, and into my butt and legs. They were few and far between. Now, I'm having these incidents daily and it's scary. Yoga and heat therapy help, but they aren't healing.

I'm not sure what the future holds right now. I feel like I'm in a holding pattern, and it's frustrating. I can't run, I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to that again. Sometimes it feels like I never will again, and those are the thoughts that can be depressing. And when I'm feeling low, I have a hard time creating. Whether it be just writing a couple of blurbs on a recipe, planning recipes and taking pictures, down to reading my friend's blogs or responding to comments- everything is affected. Everything feels harder. 

So, that's where I am right now. I haven't been sharing my feelings because they are hard to admit and share. The struggle to have the prettiest blog feels real, though us bloggers know that's in our heads. At the same time, there's some cathartic about getting my feelings out and writing them down. It has helped. The only thing to be done now is to do some yoga, take a long hot shower, and work on a project for the blog.

Yesterday, I heard "Let Your Heart Hold Fast" by Fort Atlantic and it made me feel a bit more peaceful and optimistic. It's a beautiful song if you haven't heard it. One lyric never fails to make me feel better-

"Let your heart hold fast, for this soon shall pass."

I guess it should speak to me, it's the title of the song! :-) 

Have a great day friends! And remember, if you are feeling low, you are not alone and this too shall pass.

Recipe adapted from: Food Network

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 link spicy sausage, casing removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups Homemade Marinara (sub store bought!)
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry red wine  (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
asiago cheese, chopped mint (for topping)
hot cooked orecchiette (or other desired pasta)

Broccoli rabe-
1 lb Brocoli rabe
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
salt, pepper


1. Make the sauce- heat olive oil in a large wide-side pan. When warm, add lamb and sausage. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until browned. Add onion, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, add sauté for 30 seconds. Add marinara, tomatoes, wine, salt, coriander, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by about 1/3 (~20 minutes). Remove sauce from heat, and stir in cream and mint. 
2. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the broccoli rabe. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp of salt. Add the broccoli rabe, and cook for 1 minute. Immediately place broccoli rabe in a bowl full of ice water. Slosh the rapini around in the water, until cold, about 1 minute. Drain into a colander. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. When warm, add garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add drained rapini to skillet, and sauté until warm, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Also while the sauce is simmering, prepare desired pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
4. Place pasta on plate, and ladle with sauce. Serve broccoli rabe to the side. Top with asiago and more mint, if desired.

Printable Recipe

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy these-


  1. I love lamb, but the mint jelly creeps me out. I have never actually tried it and you just made me glad I haven't. I just don't see why that seems like a good idea. This, however, looks amazing!

    1. Yeah, I was less than impressed with this restaurant's mint jelly. Perhaps if mint jelly is done correctly, it would taste better? I don't know. Maybe mint jelly to me is how cilantro tastes like dish soap to some people? Whatever the cause, I like my lamb without it! :-)

  2. I hope you get some relief and start feeling better!
    I've always wanted to try lamb, and have finally found a store that carries some. Not sure that they had "ground" though. I will have to go back and look!

    1. It's hard to find lamb around here too. Sometimes the store just has a leg of lamb or a rack, and then sometimes they have ground lamb. I got lucky one time :-) I hope you can find some!

      Thank you for the well wishes! Have a great day Kris!

  3. I love lamb with mint jelly and gray poupon mustard on the side. Also with LeSuer peas and mashed potatoes, asparagus vinagrette. :-) Only have it at Easter as it is so expensive, and I may even forgo it this year. I do have some ground lamb in the freezer, organic.

    This recipe sounds good.

    I am so sorry you are dealing with so much back pain. I pray that you'll find some relief soon, something not invasive, but more on the natural side. Bless your heart.

    Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

    1. I'm suspecting that this particular mint jelly may not have been up my alley. Perhaps a different recipe for the jelly would taste better? I'll probably have to experiment with that. I hope you try the recipe though, it really was so yummy.

      Thank you for the kind words! Today already feels better than yesterday. One day at a time is what I keep telling myself :-)

      Have a great day FlowerLady!

  4. You know why I come here, Jessica? Yes, the food, but mostly because I care about YOU. Even when you're not telling us exactly what's in your heart, I can still tell you have a good one. It comes through in your writing. I wouldn't care if you had the crappiest blog on the internet (you don't!) or the very best, I'd still visit you, because I like you.

    That said, I'm really sorry you're going through all of this crap and I hope you get help soon. And don't worry about keeping up on your visits. YOU come first and the internet will be here whenever you want.

    Hugs to you, sweet friend, and kiss those babies of yours for me.

    1. Thank you Rue, that means a lot to me.

      I'll make sure to give the babies plenty of kisses :-) Hope you had a great weekend!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.