Castellane with Ground Lamb, Fennel and Sun-Dried Tomato
I have no idea why this particular, twisty, shell-like pasta shape should be called "Castellane", which means "castle-dweller"... but the good people at Barilla obviously know the reason, even if they are not sharing it!
The important thing is that this pasta tasted delicious- smooth and silky on the tongue and with the great lamb, garlic, fennel, sun-dried tomato and thyme flavor, a perfect Winter supper full of comfort and joy!
I put the water on to boil for my pasta and got my frying pan hot and ready for the lamb, which I added along with some chopped onion, garlic, diced fennel, fennel seed and dried chili flakes. I sautéed these together until the water came to the boil, then added my pasta to the water and a splash of white wine to the ground lamb, to deglaze the pan.
I let the pasta boil for 6-7 minutes and then poured most of the water off and added the pasta to the frying pan, nice and moist, so that the remaining water formed a sauce or dressing of sorts in combination with the contents of the frying pan.
I reduced the heat and added a couple of sun-dried tomatoes which I cut into fine strips and a little freshly grated nutmeg. I kept tossing the pasta, over and over, and added a few sprigs of thyme of which I plucked the little leaves from the stem. After 2-3 minutes in the frying pan and a total cooking time of 8-9 minutes, the pasta was "al-dente" and ready to go... so I left it for a minute longer! I don't like my pasta to be "al-dente" to the point that it is still half-raw- a trend that is horribly "chic" at the moment. No, no and thrice no! Pasta should be cooked properly- not over-cooked of course, but just right of course. And as far as I am concerned- dishing it up half-raw for fear of cooking it for too long is just a cop-out!
I finished my pasta off with a generous sprinkle of chili flakes, a grating of salted ricotta and a few little sprigs of fresh fennel greens- mmm! You're going to like it! I promise!