From lamb meatballs to kale pesto: Yotam Ottolenghi's one-pot pasta recipe

Three quick and easy pans: fregola balls with lamb and feta, ricotta-stuffed shells in pumpkin sauce, and breadcrumb pasta with kale pesto

We all know how delicious pasta is, but sometimes we also forget how versatile it is. Some are great for stuffing – large shells or cylinders, for example, those that look like blankets, wrapped around all kinds of stuffing. Others are soft little balls – fregola and orzo – that swell and expand when cooked. Pasta can also be very easy to make, especially when it's all cooked in one vessel, taking on the flavor of everything around it. So here are three ways with one pot of pasta, to try before we all come out of hibernation.

Lamb meatballs with fregola and feta (pictured above)

Fregola is a Sardinian pasta made from semolina that has a nutty taste similar to that of giant baked couscous. Use in dishes where you would use giant couscous or orzo with the same cooking time. Prepare 10 minutes

  • Cook 30 minutes
  • Portions 4-6
  • 400g minced lamb (at least 15% fat)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (120g)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp allspice powder
  • 30g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 15 grams of parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, 3 crushed and 3 thinly sliced
  • 1 lime; finely grated, to get 1 tsp zest, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed lightly with a pestle and mortar
  • Fine sea salt and black pepper
  • 75g feta, cut into 2cm cubes
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 200g fregol
  • Chicken broth 500 ml
  • 10g fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

Place the minced meat, onion, cinnamon, allspice, panko, egg and parsley in a large bowl. Add the crushed garlic, lemon zest, three-quarters teaspoon cumin, three tablespoons water, one teaspoon salt and well-ground pepper, stir to combine and set aside for 10 minutes. Roll the mixture into 12 55-60g compact balls.

Meanwhile, place the feta, paprika and two tablespoons of oil in a small bowl and let it marinate until needed.

Place your large, covered saute pan over medium-high heat with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add the meatballs and fry for 10 minutes, turning every two minutes or so, until charred and golden.

Transfer the meatballs to a plate reserving a tablespoon of the fat, then wipe the skillet out. Add the fat back into the skillet with the sliced garlic and, still over medium heat, cook for another minute. Add tomato paste and cook another minute. Add the fregola and toast, stirring occasionally, for two minutes. Pour in the stock, 400ml of hot water and half a teaspoon of salt, stir to combine, then return the meatballs to the pan.

Put on the lid and cook for 18 minutes, stirring with a rubber spatula every five minutes to loosen the fregola from the bottom of the pan, being careful not to break the meatballs. Remove the lid and cook, stirring frequently, for about five more minutes, until the fregola is cooked through and the sauce is reduced and thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, then spoon over the marinated feta. Cover with the lid and let rest for two minutes.

Serve straight from the pan with coriander and the remaining cumin sprinkled on top. 

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