A new year begins and the time for indulging takes a back seat (for a little while at least).
Just because you or I made the resolution to eat well or lose those few extra holiday pounds doesn’t mean we can’t eat well.
To me, eating well means taking the time to cook at home, throw some extra vegetables in a meal that you wouldn’t expect to find them there, like a ragu or a hearty soup or stew or even risotto. Perhaps adding a side salad to dinner to fill you up before hand, which then equals eating smaller portions.
Depriving yourself from good food in January will just make you miserable and end those resolutions quickly. For my first recipe of the new year, I was hoping to bring you something quick and easy to make, and while it is certainly easy, quick is relative depending on how long you usually spend cooking dinner!
Before I got over my fear of chickpeas and really explored menus at Middle Eastern restaurants my favorite thing to order was the lamb pizza or rather Lambajin.
Lambajin is uniquely spiced pizza, made with ground lamb and a combination of cinnamon, cumin, sumac and mint. It has a tomato base and cooked down like a ragu and then topped on pizza dough. Traditionally it is topped with toasted pine nuts, but I have chosen to leave them off and top mine with labane a yogurt like cheese spread.
To make this easy for a weeknight, I used lavash, a Middle Eastern flatbread in place of pizza dough. A light drizzle of olive oil and toasted on both sides while the ragu cooks makes it a perfect base.
Finally, if you aren’t a lamb fan or you are trying to cut back on red meat. Ground chicken would make a perfect substitution for this dish.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons za’atar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 small to medium red onion, finely diced
1 small red pepper, finely diced
1 small green bell pepper, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces ground lamb
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 package lavash bread (4 total)
salt and pepper to season
In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon, cumin, za’atar, salt, mint and black pepper and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed skillet heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and peppers. Cook about five minutes until soft and transulcent. Add the garlic, cook for an additional 30 seconds until fragrant, stirring frequently careful not to burn. Add the ground lamb, breaking up into small pieces and sprinkle evenly with the spice mixture. Cook until browned and no longer pink throughout.
Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet brush olive oil onto the lavash and bake for about 5 minutes, remove and repeat on reverse side.
Once the lamb mixture is cooked through, add the diced tomatoes and bring the heat up to medium-high. We want as little extra liquid as possible, otherwise the lavash will become soggy. Bring the ragu to a boil and cook down about 10 to 15 minutes until thick. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Using a slotted spoon, ladle a quarter of the mixture onto the lavash in an even layer, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the border exposed. Return to the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Cut into quarters and top each quarter with a dollop of the labane.
Makes 4 pizzas