The only way I can describe this dish is if you had an Italian grandmother and a Middle Eastern grandfather and they decided to make one pasta dish that represented both cultures. The lamb, harissa, cumin, and mint give it that Middle Eastern taste, and the pasta, tomatoes, fennel, and pecorino cheese give it the Italian taste. I know it sounds like it wouldn’t go together but with that first bite it just perfectly melds together to make sense.
I found this recipe in the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2013, and it was submitted by Chef Michal Mina. The Food & Wine Annual Cookbooks are wonderful and I strongly suggest getting one every year. Since starting this blog and I have enjoyed looking through these books for new Sunday Dinners. Keep in mind not all of the recipes in the cookbooks are time consuming, a lot can be made quickly as a weeknight meal.
In total the recipe takes a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes to prepare. Everything in the ingredients list was easy to find except for the Strozzapreti pasta, but I found a pasta just like it and it was no problem. If you don’t have harissa handy at your local grocery store order it online (Amazon has a really good selection). The cherry tomatoes and scallions added at the end give it a freshness, and if you are like me and do not like mint add basil instead! One thing I always remember when cooking: It is a recipe it is not set in stone, if you cant find an ingredient or just don’t like an ingredient then substitute it with something different. The internet is a great tool for looking up alternative ingredients. Case in point, I was planning to make a chicken pie and the crust is made with buttermilk and I was out and didn’t feel like going to the store. I googled substitutions for buttermilk and got the result to mix sour cream and milk. I was a little worried but I did it and it worked wonderfully and my crust was just as good as when I used buttermilk.
So if you are looking for a comforting pasta dish but want a different flavor then usual, try this recipe and let me know if you liked it as much as I did. Check in next time to see what is next on my Sunday Dinner Menu.