Lamb Manestra

Two options here, the first one is The Old Way my Yiayia & Mom used to make it, the second incorporates tomatoes, mint, et al. (and would be the The Other Way)

Just Kidding Mr. Ramsay, there is no lamb sauce. But there will be in the coming Lamb Curry recipe.

Love, Meme-Whores Anonymous

Serves 4-6 | Cook Time >2hrs

Option 01 – The Old Way


  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ~1 lb. lamb, cut into cubes (bite-sized pieces; stew meat is fine)
  • 3 C water
  • 8 oz. Orzo Pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Kasseri Cheese, shredded for topping


  1. Liberally salt the meat and allow it to rest for a few minutes.
  2. Add olive oil to sauté pan over Med-High heat until a droplet of water dances/sizzles off it.
  3. Add the meat and thoroughly sear (brown) on all sides (add more oil if necessary).
  4. Remove meat and set aside.
  5. Add onions to the pan and cook until tender.
  6. Add garlic and cook until fragrant
  7. Stir in water, deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  8. Bring up to a boil, add meat back in and then reduce to a simmer.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Continue to low-simmer for an hour or as long as you’d like. Longer means softer meat.
    • I like to do this until the meat is nearly falling apart, so and hour or more
  11. Stir in orzo and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until orzo is tender and has absorbed almost all of the liquid. If things get a bit too thick, you can add a bit of water, or olive oil to slick it up a bit.
  12. Serve with the Kasseri and plenty of crushed peppercorn medley.

Option 02 – The Other Way


  • 2 tb Olive oil
  • 1 lb Lamb; in 2″ cubes
  • 1 tsp Mint flakes
  • 2 Medium Yellow Onions, chopped
  • 4 C Boiling water
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 C Orzo Pasta
  • Pinch of Cinnamon powder
  • 1 C Grated cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil in large saucepan and brown onions.
  2. Add lamb cubes and brown well on all sides.
  3. Add tomato sauce, 2 cups water and seasonings.
  4. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until lamb is tender.
  5. Add remaining 2 cups water and bring to a boil.
  6. Add orzo, stirring to incorporate.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes longer until pasta is done.
  8. Serve hot with grated cheese.

A popular dish at every Greek-Easter, this was my Dad’s favorite dish, and I swear no matter how much of a salty bastard he was, this would turn his volume-knob down in a hurry.

Love, Jimi


My family typically made this The Old Way; no tomato paste or mint or other stuff. And I still prefer it that way, but there is something to be said of the acidity tomato paste brings to an otherwise “heavy” dish. That said, I do from time-to-time make the Old Way with a bit of tom-paste (Shhh, you fool! The Greeks Will Find Me!). If you really want to fuckity-right-off the reservation, you can use ptitim (Israeli Cous-Cous), which is another semolina pasta of roughly the same mass and mouth-feel. You’d treat it exactly the same as above.

This was a hard thing to make for Dad after Mom died. It was both comforting and excruciating. For him, I think it was like trying to embrace a shadow. And honestly, real-talk here: I often find myself in tears when making legacy dishes like this, because you get to a point where most or all of those people are gone. And this is all you have.

[For: Jessie & Peggy & Jim]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: