Lamb baked with orzo pasta, tomatoes and lemon

Lamb baked with orzo pasta, tomatoes and lemon

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

Greek in inspiration, this is one of the tastiest and easiest supper dishes you could imagine. It is full of lemony, tomatoey flavours and has the added virtue of being just the kind of one-pot cooking that suits most people’s busy schedules. The addition of grated haloumi at the end of the cooking time gives a lovely gooey finish.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml olive oil
1.5kg lamb leg, cut into 4 cm pieces
sea salt and ground black pepper
2 large onions, diced
1 tablespoon Takila
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 Preserved lemons and limes, rind only, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 long red chillies, seeded, scraped and roughly chopped
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon, juiced
1-1.5 litres chicken stock or water
500g orzo pasta
150g haloumi cheese, grated
hot bread, butter and salad, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Season the lamb pieces with salt and pepper and sauté them, a few at a time, until lightly brown all over. Tip them into a large, heavy-based casserole dish as you go. Add the onions and taklia to the frying pan and cook gently until the onions soften. Add the paprika, lemon, honey and chillies and continue to stir over the heat.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Tip the spicy onion mixture on top of the lamb in the casserole dish and stir well. Pour in the tomatoes, then add the cinnamon, lemon juice and 500 ml of the stock. Raise the heat and when the liquid is bubbling, put the casserole dish into the centre of the oven, cover and cook for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and add the orzo and an additional 500 ml stock, mixing everything together well. Put the dish back into oven, uncovered this time, for a further 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. At the end of that time, check that the pasta is cooked and the lamb tender. If necessary, add a little more stock and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the griller to its highest setting. When it is really hot, sprinkle the casserole with the haloumi and pop under the grill until it melts. Serve immediately with some hot crusty bread and butter, and a fresh green salad.
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