January 12, 2012
Multi-Grain Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb and Ricotta Salata
The first time I tried lamb was at a neighborhood restaurant named Rustico. They had retooled their menu and added a new appetizer: carrot hummus with spiced lamb, crumbled feta and grilled pita. It was amazing and now I insist on getting it every time we go to Rustico. The lamb tasted a little like beef, but different and certainly interesting.
When MM and I went to Bryan Voltaggio's Volt restaurant right before the New Year and I saw they had lamb on the menu, I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. It was a loin cut and was delicious and tender. Although, to be honest, MM got the beef strip loin and we couldn't tell the difference between the two!
When I was looking through old food magazines and saw this Mark Bittman recipe for a pasta dish with ground lamb in the January 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, it seemed like the universe was telling me it was time to try cooking lamb.
Ultimately, this dish was pretty good, but I doubt I would be tempted to make it again. First, I don't really like multi-grain or whole wheat pasta. During the cooking process, it goes from being too hard to falling apart within a minute and doesn't reheat worth a dime.
I also learned that I don't like pre-cut butternut squash. I have always been weary of pre-cut fruit and vegetables because the price is jacked up and they aren't as fresh as whole fruits and veggies. But, we saw the exact size container we needed at Harris Teeter, so we bought it. This was the first time I had bought a package of pre-cut butternut squash and I wasn't impressed. The squash turned to mush in the roasting process and didn't have much flavor.
Finally, I couldn't find kasseri cheese and neglected to look up appropriate substitutes, so when I was standing in front of the cheese case at the Commissary, I decided I hadn't had ricotta salata in awhile and I like it with pasta, so it would have to do. It may have been the best part of the whole dish! That and the cilantro. I love cilantro.