Lemony Lamb & Artichoke Casserole

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In the melting pot mix that our kids represent there are many nationalities. Among them? German, Irish, Danish, English, Swiss, Armenian–and Greek! As an ode to that Middle-Eastern strain, I once mixed up a meal combining favorite ingredients: lemon, lamb, artichoke hearts, spinach, rice, pine nuts and feta in one dish. The result has become a family favorite.

Makes 8 to 10

Lemony Lamb & Artichoke Casserole Ingredients

 

  • 6 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 Tbsp rice bran oil, grapeseed oil or light olive oil
  • 8 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1 large Spanish onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp soy butter or unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup French feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp finely minced preserved lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated mozzarella or parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook rice according to package ingredients to make six cups
  2. While rice is cooking, brown lamb in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drain fat. Spoon meat into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat oil in skillet and add onion and garlic sauteing over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth, cover pan and simmer until onion and garlic is quite soft. Remove lid and continue cooking until most of the vegetable broth has evaporated. Spoon onion and garlic into the meat mixing bowl.
  4. While the onion and meat mixture is still hot, stir in the baby spinach, drained artichoke hearts and toasted pine nuts. Fluff cooked rice with fork and stir into the mixture.
  5. Wipe out skillet. Melt soy butter. Whisk in flour and heat until flour has toasted about five minutes. Gradually whisk in milk to make white sauce. Remove from heat. Whisk in freshly ground pepper to taste. Crumble feta cheese in to white sauce and stir until incorporated.
  6. Stir cheese sauce into rice/meat/vegetable mixture. Add minced preserved lemon.
  7. Preheat oven to 350. Salt and taste mixture to adjust seasoning. Spoon into casserole dish; sprinkle with cheese garnish. Heat in a 350 degree oven until hot through, 20 to 30 minutes.

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