I love one-dish suppers, especially when they involve pasta of any sort.
There are many versions of Youvetsi, a traditional Greek recipe where orzo pasta is added to the stew at the very end. Purists will probably be up in arms about this not being 100% traditional as it’s relatively quick but my goal is to make food that tastes fabulous in the shortest possible time.
The combined flavors are wonderful with lots of fresh rosemary, a hint of spice and tender chunks of lamb simmered in a tomato-y sauce. I recommend using leg of lamb for the leanest cut but shoulder will also do very well.
The addition of fresh spinach gives you a healthy dose of green – just add more if this isn’t enough for you.
YOUVETSI – GREEK LAMB STEW WITH ORZO & SPINACH
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1lb (450g) of lean lamb cut into 2-inch (5cm) chunks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
A fat garlic clove, minced
A sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and minced
1/2 a teaspoon of ground allspice
2 bay leaves
14 oz (400g) can of chopped tomatoes
7 fl oz (200ml) of chicken stock
2 teaspoons of runny honey
A pinch of sea salt
7 oz (200g) of orzo pasta
4-6 oz (120g) of washed baby spinach leaves
3 oz (75g) of crumbled feta cheese to serve
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy sauté pan or casserole with a lid and brown the meat in batches. Set aside. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until soft then return the meat to the pan, adding the rosemary, allspice and bay leaves. Stir to combine and cook for another minute or so over moderate heat.
Add the honey, salt, chicken stock and canned tomatoes with their juice then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to the packet instructions, drain and rinse under cold water. Add the orzo to the lamb stew along with the spinach leaves.
Give it a good stir to wilt the leaves then cover the pan and take it off the heat to rest for 3-5 minutes before serving with a sprinkle of crumbled feta.