4. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir and continue to cook, covered, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook uncovered 2 more minutes.
[STOVE COOK moves on to Seared Lamb while PREP COOK takes over the pasta at Step 5.]
5. Cook pasta until al dente (approx. 5 minutes). Drain the cooked pasta and toss it with the Ragout and Mint Pesto to taste. (Any extra pesto can be stored in a jar, refrigerated, for a week.) Keep the pasta warm in a covered pan on the stove until ready to serve.
1 1/2 cups mint leaves (washed and spun dry)
1/2 cup basil leaves (washed and spun dry)
2 cloves garlic 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping In a blender or food processor, puree the mint, basil, and garlic cloves while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Stop and scrape the bowl, then add the cheese and puree until smooth.
Seared Lamb Steaks with Red-Wine Pan Sauce Lamb steaks are the essence of spring when paired with minty pasta and seasonal vegetables. If you can’t find lamb steaks (cut from the leg), substitute blade chops.
2 bone-in lamb steaks, about 3/4 inch thick (1 1/2 pounds total)
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup red wine*
1. Heat a heavy non-reactive (i.e., not cast iron) skillet over medium heat until very hot. Lightly season the lamb steaks with salt and pepper and sear them on both sides until nicely browned but still Pink inside, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. (Cook longer for more well-done lamb, but remember that it will keep cooking once removed from the pan!)
2. Remove the steaks to a plate. Reduce the heat under the pan to low. When the pan has cooled a bit, add the butter and wine. Pour in any juices from the plate and simmer, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Adjust seasoning to taste and pour over the steaks. *Make your pan sauce with the same wine that you are drinking with your meal. A great match with lamb is a medium-bodied, full-flavored Côtes du Rhône. Try the delicious Delas Côtes du Ventoux 2003, which has enough heft to stand up to the steaks without overpowering the spring vegetables—and costs less than $10 a bottle.
Gourmand and hostess Califia Suntree has worked in restaurants, catered, edited cookbooks, and snacked her way across the country. Her foodie blog can be found at www.spooning.typepad.com.