Pump Up the Pasta
Bite into this flavor-charged spin on noodles and meatballs
TAGLIATELLE WITH LAMB MEATBALLS AND MINT PESTO
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.
2 slices white bread, crust removed
1/2 cup milk
2 pounds ground lamb
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
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."