Spiced Lamb and Dill Yogurt Pasta

This dish borrows the flavors of shish barak—lamb and pine nut dumplings from the Levant—and spins them in a pasta direction. And if you feel like riffing even further (or if you’d rather spend your time sunbathing than grocery shopping), go for it. No dill? Chives and parsley would be great. No lamb? Use another ground meat (or lima beans!). No currants? Any dried fruit works.

4–6 servings


3large egg yolks
2cups kefir (cultured milk) or plain whole-milk yogurt
3cups (lightly packed) dill fronds with tender stems (about 1 large bunch), divided
3garlic cloves, divided
3Tbsp. unsalted butter
½cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
½cup dried currants or raisins
1tsp. kosher salt, plus more
1Tbsp. ground cumin
1½tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1lb. ground lamb
1lb. orecchiette or other short pasta


1. Combine egg yolks, kefir, and 1½ cups dill in a blender; finely grate in 1 garlic clove and blend until smooth. Set purée aside. Finely chop remaining 1½ cups dill and set aside separately.
2. Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add dried currants and cook, stirring often, until plump, about 1 minute. Scrape nut mixture into a small bowl; season with salt.
3. Wipe out skillet and heat over medium-high. Stir together cumin, pepper, and 1 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Place lamb in pan and use a sturdy spatula to aggressively flatten (like you’re making smash burgers); sprinkle spice mixture over. Cook, undisturbed, until lamb is well browned and crisp underneath, about 4 minutes. Hold back meat and drain off of the fat; discard. Break up meat into small pieces and mix in nut mixture. Finely grate in remaining 2 garlic cloves and add reserved chopped dill. Cook, stirring, until herbs are wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside until pasta is ready.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute shy of al dente (pasta will finish cooking in the sauce). Drain pasta and return to pot.
5. Pour reserved purée over pasta and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens enough to cling to pasta and just comes to a simmer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; finely grate zest from lemon half over pasta, then squeeze in juice. Season with salt.
6. Divide pasta among bowls and top with lamb mixture.

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