Tagliatelle With Lamb Meatballs and Mint Pesto

Spring 2013

Executive chef Scott Reifenberger of the Skyline Club in Indianapolis puts a Greek twist on the typical meatball dish by using local lamb, luscious mint pesto, and fresh asparagus. “With lamb, asparagus, and mint, this pasta dish incorporates all the fresh flavors of spring.”

2 slices white bread, crust removed
1/2 cup milk
2 pounds ground lamb
2 eggs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1-1/2 pounds tagliatelle
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups asparagus tips, cut on bias in 1-inch pieces
Mint Pesto (recipe follows)
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into small squares and, in a small bowl, add to the milk. Once the bread has absorbed the milk, mash with a fork.

In a large bowl, add lamb, eggs, Parmesan cheese, cumin, pepper, garlic, shallot, parsley, and mashed bread. Combine thoroughly. Form the meat into 2- to 3-ounce balls. On a sheet pan, bake the meatballs for 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 160 degrees.

Cook pasta 12 to 14 minutes, until al dente. Strain pasta, reserving 1 cup of water for the sauce.

Pour olive oil into large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and saute for 2 minutes. Add Mint Pesto and the cup of reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer, add pasta, and toss. Add cherry tomatoes and combine all.

To serve, top with meatballs.

Yield: 6 servings

MINT PESTO

1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Place mint, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, and pine nuts in a food processor and puree until well combined, slowly adding the oil throughout process. Season with salt and pepper.

CHEF’S SECRET: “Leave a thin layer of oil on top of homemade pesto to prevent discoloration of the green herbs. Refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container for future use.”

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