Region: Italy, Apulia
Category: Pasta with Lamb
Difficulty: Easy but long cooking time
This is a wonderful fall dish inspired by the cooking of Apulia in Italy. The combination of lamb and escarole is much loved in Apulia. The escarole is boiled first to reduce the amount of bitterness. It’s important to use lamb shoulder rather than lamb leg because shoulder takes longer to cook and as it is cooked with the hard pumpkin they will both become tender about the same time. In place of basil you can use fresh mint. Farfalle are butterfly-shaped pasta.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation Time: 1:45 hours
2 bunches (about 1 ½ pounds) escarole, washed well
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pound boneless lamb shoulder, cut into ½-inch dice
½ pound pumpkin, diced
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup rosé or white wine
1 pound farfalle
1 cup (3 ounces) freshly grated pecorino cheese
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, then cook the escarole until much wilted but still green, about 7 minutes. Drain and chop and set aside until needed.
2. In a large casserole, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the lamb, stirring, until it is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook 2 minutes while stirring. Pour in the wine, reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally until the lamb and pumpkin are tender, about 1 ½ hours.
3. Meanwhile, for every pound of pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat, salt abundantly with up to 1/2 cup of salt, then add the pasta in handfuls. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick together, until al dente. Drain without rinsing.
4. Transfer the pasta to the casserole, increase the heat to medium-high and toss well to mix. Add the pecorino cheese and basil, toss again to mix well, and after 1 minute, serve hot.