tasty tuesday: ground lamb ragu with roasted spaghetti squash

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This dish may look like your typical spaghetti and meat sauce, but it has a few twists along the way.

I’m a huge fan of lamb as a protein.  It’s a red meat with game-y taste, and anytime I see lamb on a menu, I’m going to order it.  When I was abroad at Oxford, lamb was the red meat of choice at most pubs, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  If you’ve been wanting to try it out, this is a great “gateway” recipe–you’ve probably had ground beef or turkey before, so you’ll be used to the texture.

Spaghetti squash is a wonderful thing.  For the record, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti, but it’s a great substitute is pasta dishes as long as you accept the fact that you’re not eating pasta.  Basically, pick a really great sauce, top the spaghetti squash with it, eat to your heart’s content, and be smug and delighted at the end of your meal when you’re not stuffed with carbs and uncomfortably full.

A word on carbs: I love them.  Too much.  I will eat them forever and ever (so deal with it, carb police).  I’m not a paleo person, a low-carb person, or one of those people who thinks that eating bacon and sausage for three meals a day will make you skinny (it might, but your arteries will hate you).  With all of that said, I do recognize that when I eat too much of them, I don’t feel so great, so I reserve carb-heavy meals for a few nights a week.  Spaghetti squash is a great alternative, especially when paired with rich tomato and lamb ragu like this one.

Why not just call it a sauce?  A ragu is more meat-based than tomato/stock/broth based (that would be a sauce).  There, now you know!

Ground Lamb Ragu with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Serves two, but you’ll have a lot of sauce leftover

1 spaghetti squash

2 tsp. olive oil

garlic powder

1 lb. ground lamb

1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, small diced

1 carrot, small diced

1 celery stalk, small diced

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1 and 1/4 cups chicken stock

1 Tbsp. ground fennel seeds

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. chopped rosemary

1 tsp. chopped thyme

salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce: heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy medium pot.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for about five minutes.  Next, add the lamb, spices, and salt and pepper.  Cook the lamb until browned, then add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.  Next, add the wine and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock, stir to combine, and let simmer for at least 35 minutes.  The longer the better!

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For the spaghetti squash: Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise.  Place each piece on a cookie sheet skin side down.  Drizzle each half with 1 tsp. of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Roast for 1 hour and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Using a fork, simply scoop out the flesh of the squash and, ta-da!, you’ll see why it’s called spaghetti squash.  Here’s a before and after:

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All that’s left to do is assemble, so scoop out one half per serving, top with the ragu, sprinkle with some parmesan, and you’ve got a hearty meal with no tummyache at the end.  Bon appetit!

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