Made this tonight with a couple substitutions (beef, mixed in some leftover pesto to the yogh mixture) and it was delicious! Loved it, will definitely make again. Yogurt makes this pasta creamy and comforting without feeling too rich. It is inspired by the Middle Eastern dish shish barak, tiny dumplings filled with lamb and pine nuts in a tangy yogurt sauce. You’ll find all those flavors here but made simpler and brighter with help from dried pasta and plenty of fresh dill.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 cups kefir (cultured milk) or whole-milk plain yogurt
- 3 cups (lightly packed) dill fronds with tender stems (about 1 large bunch), divided
- 3 garlic cloves, divided
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- ½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
- ½ cup dried currants or raisins
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 lb. orecchiette
- ½ lemon
- Combine egg yolks, yogurt, and 1½ cups dill in a blender; finely grate in 1 garlic clove and blend until smooth. Set purée aside. Finely chop remaining dill; set aside.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add dried currants and cook, stirring often, until plump, about 1 minute. Scrape nut mixture into a small bowl; season with salt.
- Wipe out skillet and heat over medium-high. Stir together cumin, pepper, and 1 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Place lamb in pan and use a sturdy spatula to aggressively flatten (like you’re making smash burgers); sprinkle spice mixture over. Cook, undisturbed, until lamb is well browned and crisp underneath, about 4 minutes. Hold back meat and drain off all of the fat. Break up meat into small pieces and mix in reserved nut mixture. Finely grate in remaining 2 garlic cloves and add reserved chopped dill. Cook, stirring, until herbs are wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside until pasta is ready.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute shy of al dente (pasta will finish cooking in the sauce). Drain pasta and return to pot.
- Pour reserved purée over pasta and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens enough to cling to pasta and just comes to a simmer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; finely grate zest from lemon half over pasta, then squeeze in juice. Season with salt.
- Divide pasta among bowls and top with lamb mixture.