Monday, March 8, 2010

Baked Orzo with Fragrant Lamb

Man alive, did we have a crazy weekend!! Our realtor called Saturday with some houses she wanted to show us, so my mom ended up coming over to stay with the kids while we went looking at houses. Some were okay, some were horrible. We're still holding out hope that the one we put the offer on will come back approved from the bank. The waiting game sucks!! We should have an answer in four weeks or so at least, so we just have to hang in there. Anyway, the boy and husband went to a hockey game Saturday night, so the baby and I didn't really do anything special for dinner.

Yesterday was just about as crazy. Church, taking lunch to and visiting my friend Jen and her new babies. The boys were both melting down when we left, so we came home for naps. The husband went grocery shopping for me while I took a much needed siesta, then the husband and boy went to get haircuts, the husband went shooting, I made dinner, we ate, kids went to bed, husband and I watched a movie. Man! Not much time in there for updating the blog here. But I'm just a day late so I don't feel that bad.

Awhile back I found some ground lamb on manager's special at the grocery store and scooped it up. I didn't know what I wanted to do with it, but it was a good deal and I thought it would be something new to try. I checked one of my Weight Watchers cookbooks and found this recipe that used ground lamb--perfect! I was really excited to try something new, and this sounded really easy.

Baked Orzo with Fragrant Lamb

1/2 pound orzo
6 ounces lean ground lamb
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ounces reduced fat feta, crumbled
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the lamb and cook, stirring to break up the meat until browned, 3-4 minutes. Remove lamb with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl with the orzo.

Add the onion, fennel, garlic, mint, and oregano to the same skillet. Cook, stirring until onion begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and cinnamon; cook until mixture thickens, 6-8 minutes.

Combine the tomato mixture with the orzo and lamb. Stir in the feta and mix well. Pour mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle top with the parmesan. Bake until hot, 25 minutes.

Points Value: 6 (makes 6 servings)


So, I had a bit of a mishap. The baby was standing next to me while I opened the package of lamb, and I checked the baby's diaper because the air smelled pretty gross. It wasn't him, it was the lamb. I was a bit skeptical of using it but went ahead and defrosted it and started cooking it. Then I called my mom to see if she knew if ground lamb was supposed to smell like a baby's dirty diaper. She didn't know, but we both agreed it probably wasn't a good sign. At this point the smell of it was making me want to puke, so I decided to scrap it. Luckily I had some ground veal in the freezer--the only other ground meat I had on hand--and quickly defrosted it and browned it. So, that was substitution #1. I ended up using the whole pound of veal because I needed to be using it up and really had no other ideas for what I could do with it. To compensate for the additional meat I added in more crushed tomatoes (conveniently I bought a 28 ounce can of tomatoes instead of 14) so it was a bit saucier. I also used fresh mint instead of dried.

I took a bite of it all mixed together before I put it in the baking dish and LOVED IT. I wasn't really sure how the cinnamon would play in when I was adding it, but it really accented the flavor of the tomatoes and feta. Who knew! Honestly I took quite a few bites before putting it in the baking dish...I couldn't stop eating it. Even once it was all heated up and baked it was so good!!! We all really liked this. I think it could easily be made with ground beef or turkey, which I would probably do in the future since it's pretty rare for me to have ground veal on hand. This was really so easy and tasty!! I'm glad I tried it--and I'm glad I had the lamb mishap. :)

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