I’ve noticed that many of my favorite food blogs are starting to feature warm-weather recipes—grilled foods, frosty drinks perfect for serving on the patio, and bright, crisp salads. I’ve been feeling a little jealous, maybe even a bit disgruntled, as I get rained on between the car and work, turn up the heat, and pull on some warm socks and a sweater.
Spring in Seattle is like that last bad boyfriend—you know the one. Maybe he had a guitar, or maybe a motorcycle. He wasn’t consistent, or responsible, he wasn’t reliable. Nobody else really understood what you saw in him. He came and went as he pleased, leaving you waiting by the phone–but when he did come around…Oh mercy! It was all worth it, even though you knew damn well he’d be gone again the next morning when you woke up.
So the grilling and the drinks and the salads are wonderful, on those rare and blissful warm afternoons when we emerge, pale and blinking, into the sunlight. But you have to be nimble around here. You can’t plan that cookout for a few days from now. You must gather ye rosebuds when ye may, seize the day, strike when the iron is hot. Because most days, from now until June or so, it’s going to be cool and rainy, maybe even downright blustery.
While I’m mooning around waiting for those occasional sunny days I’m still wearing both socks and slippers, and cooking stick-to-your-ribs kind of meals.
Lamb Ragu fits the bill on a damp spring evening. It fills the tummy and warms the soul with its blend of rich tomato and lamb, brightened by herbs and mellowed by a bed of gnocchi.
(Adapted from Serious Eats)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup red wine
- One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups lamb or chicken stock
- Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks
- shredded basil leaves
In a heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the lamb, cumin, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste, about 1 teaspoon of each. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Drain fat if desired.
Add the wine and stock to the pot along with the canned tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil; then reduce to a steady simmer. Cover partially and simmer until the liquid is reduced, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve over gnocchi, and top with fresh mozzarella and shredded basil leaves.