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Dressing up store-bought Stracnar

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

I love history, and when history includes food because all history does, you will see me lean in to soak up the rich heritage in order to pass it along to inquiring minds, like you.

This week's recipe comes to you all the way from Southern Italy. Stracnar is a flat pasta and while it is traditionally made by hand using a board called a cavarola that has a distinctive design on it, I have eliminated the work involved, of course, and opted for a store-bought version that will go nicely with a lamb ragu that is as rich in flavor as it is in history.

I've been researching Italian cooking and what I've gathered is there are quite a few dishes that are quick to make because the ingredients are usually what I normally stock in my pantry or refrigerator.

If you follow my suggestion in my book to stock the freezer with meat you can pull out before work to thaw, you'll have the main ingredient for this dish.

Today, I'm featuring ground lamb but you can use beef if you must. Cherry tomatoes are used in this meal, but you can use stewed canned tomatoes if you don't have fresh tomatoes.

It's a totally different meal that, if you've never had lamb before, may take a bit of getting used to. I feel a smidge more sophisticated when I eat lamb for reasons I can't explain.

So, for me, this is a rich, delicious treat, but when I add fresh basil and parmesan, I am the queen of my castle as we dive into Italian's best -- Stracnar with lamb ragu.


2 lbs. ground lamb

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 lemon

1/2 lb. flat wide noodle pasta

1 quart cherry tomatoes

3/4 cup kalamatta olives

1/4 cup capers

1/2 onion, chopped

fresh basil

chunky parmesan

4 T. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

Bring a stock pot of water to boil and boil the pasta according to the package. In a large skillet drizzle the olive oil. Over medium heat sauté the garlic and onions for 1 minute. Add the lamb and brown. Add the tomatoes and cook covered for 4 minutes. Add the olives and capers. Zest the lemon. Turn off the heat and now squeeze the lemon all over the lamb mixture. Add the salt. Add the pasta and mix well. Garnish with lots of basil and cheese. Serve with a robust red wine.

Janet McCormick is the author of "10-Minute Meals" and owner of Let's Eat in Huntington. She lives in Lawrence County, Ohio. She can be reached at 304-654-2003 or www.10-minutemeals.com.