I was really excited to write today’s Tasty Tuesday post because today I’m sharing one of our favorite meals. We don’t have it that often (mostly because ground lamb is $10.00/lb and that just seems ridiculous), but when we do, we’re reminded exactly why we love it so much.
As with most Greek dishes, the flavors are simple and comforting. Arni Giouvetsi (also spelled Arni Youvetsi) reminds me of something you’d have at a large family dinner on a Sunday afternoon … It’s not particularly fancy, but it is delicious!
I don’t make this dish in the traditional way (with a shoulder or leg of lamb) for two reasons: I like the way the ground lamb mixes in completely with the dish (you basically get a bite of meat with every bite of orzo, tomatoes, and onions) and, to be perfectly honest, ground lamb is easier for me to find. If you want to try making a more traditional Arni Giouvetsi, I’d recommend clicking over to Elly Says Opa (the link to this meal can be found below the recipe title) and following her instructions. If you’re like me, though, and prefer using ground lamb, you can use the recipe below. I didn’t make that many changes from the original recipe, but some of the cook/bake times are different, so make sure you follow the instructions that correspond with the type of lamb you’re using!
Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Elly Says Opa.
- 1-1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (I used a 1.07 lb package of ground lamb last time)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp sea salt (plus additional to taste)
- 2 tsp black pepper (plus additional to taste)
- 1 white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic (or, if you’re lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups water or broth (I always use water in this recipe because I like the flavor of the lamb to shine through, but I’m sure it would also be great with chicken broth)
- 1 16 oz. package orzo
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the ground lamb and season the meat with the salt and pepper.
- Cook the lamb until just brown, breaking it up as it cooks. (This shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes or so.)
- Once the lamb is cooked through, add it to the 9×13 inch pan. (Make sure you retain at least some of the juices in the skillet for the next step!)
- In the same skillet, add the diced onion and cook until tender.
- Add the garlic and tomato paste to the onions and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has started to cook off and become incorporated with the onions.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes (with their juices) and the water (or broth). Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with additional sea salt and pepper.
- Cook the tomato mixture for about 3-5 minutes at a boil, then pour the liquid around the lamb in the pan.
- Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes before adding the orzo. (I used the full 30 minutes.)
- Remove the pan from the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees.
- Add the orzo to the lamb and tomato mixture in the pan, stirring several times to ensure the orzo is completely covered with liquid.
- Bake uncovered for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. (I only baked mine for 20 minutes.)
The ingredient list is pretty short and simple, but it does take some time to prepare. It’s well worth the effort, though! As for sides, I think this meal is best served with a steamed green vegetable (I made green beans the last time we had this).