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Lentil and chickpea ragu, in the Instant Pot

This Mediterranean-style dish comes together quickly.
Lamb and lentil ragu [LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI | Special to the Times]

This recipe is inspired by a delicious Mediterranean-style lamb ragu I had for lunch at Bazille at Nordstrom. Yes, the department store inside International Plaza in Tampa has a bistro-style restaurant.

Similar in consistency to a hearty Italian Bolognese sauce, this lamb ragu is loaded with everything good for you: lentils, chickpeas and carrots. My version is quickly made in the Instant Pot and just a tad sweeter to cut the pungent curry flavor.

Curry powder’s main ingredient is turmeric, which gives it that signature yellow tint but not a lot of taste. The blend’s mild flavor is credited to spices like fenugreek and cumin, as well as coriander.

I also added a few additional spices and fresh ginger to further enhance the flavors. Bazille serves this dish with a side of toasted naan triangles and house-made gnocchi browned in butter. The ragu sits on a bed of plain yogurt and is topped with fresh herbs. It’s quite earthy and delicious, especially for a chilly day.

I serve this ragu with an herb salad topped with a simple vinaigrette to brighten the flavors of the dish.

Rana makes gnocchi found in the refrigerated pasta section in the grocery store. They are simple to cook up, sauteed with just a little butter in a skillet. Almost as good as homemade. Make your own if you’d like, or use the vacuum-sealed potato gnocchi found in the pasta aisle.

You can find ground lamb in your market’s meat aisle, usually sold in 1--pound packages. If you can’t find ground lamb, ask the butcher to grind 1 pound of the least expensive cut of lamb in the case. You can also grind the meat yourself in a food processor to a fine mince.

This ragu would also be perfect served on a bed of polenta, rice or pasta. You can also use ground beef or pork for this recipe.

Instant Pot Lamb, Lentil and Chickpea Ragu

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped sweet onion, peeled

2 cups finely chopped fresh carrots, peeled

1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger

1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic

1 pound ground lamb

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika

½ teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup beef stock

1 (14- or 15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup dried lentils, brown, red or green, rinsed and picked through

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for serving

2 dried bay leaves

For serving:

2 (12-ounce) bags gnocchi, cooked according to the package directions

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 pieces naan bread, toasted and cut into triangles

Have all your ingredients ready to add to the Instant Pot.

Press SAUTE and set on the highest setting. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Stir in the onion, carrots, ginger and garlic. Saute just until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground lamb, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, allspice, curry powder and salt and pepper. Stir until the lamb is no longer pink. This should take about 15 minutes. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Stir in the tomato sauce, beef stock, chickpeas, lentils, parsley and bay leaves. Stir the pot and scrape the bottom and sides. Secure the lid and push the steam release handle to SEALING. Press PRESSURE COOK on high pressure and set the time to 20 minutes.

Now is a good time to cook the gnocchi; I like to saute the cooked gnocchi in some melted butter. Warm the naan triangles in the toaster.

When the Instant Pot is done cooking, let it naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes and then manually release the pressure. Open the lid and stir in more fresh parsley to serve. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves before serving.

On a serving plate, spread a layer of yogurt on the dish. Top with a serving of lamb ragu and some herb salad. Arrange the cooked gnocchi on one side of the dish and 3 toasted naan triangles on the opposite side of the dish. Splash vinaigrette over the top of the herb salad.

Serves about 6 to 8.

Source: Lorraine Fina Stevenski

Herb Salad With Vinaigrette Dressing

For the vinaigrette dressing:

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the herb salad:

1 cup torn baby spinach leaves

1 cup torn baby arugula

½ cup torn basil leaves

½ cup torn Italian parsley leaves

¼ cup cilantro leaves (optional)

To the bowl of a small food processor or blender, add all dressing ingredients except olive oil. Process about 1 minute.

With the motor running, add extra-virgin olive oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a medium salad bowl, toss all salad ingredients together. Toss with dressing and serve.

Source: Lorraine Fina Stevenski

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