Arni Youvetsi (Lamb and Orzo)

Arni Youvetsi (lamb And Orzo) Recipe

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Marsha Gardner


This is a traditional 'Sunday Lunch' dish. The orzo (a kind of pasta that is shaped like large grains of rice) cooks in the liquid released by the lamb and tomato and becomes very tasty.

Many make it with a cut of beef suitable for roasting, cut into large pieces, or even with chicken pieces.


★★★★★ 2 votes



  • 4 lb
    leg of lamb
  • 2 Tbsp
    lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 tsp
    oregano, dried
  • 1/2 tsp
    thyme, dried
  • 1 c
    red wine
  • 1/2 c
    butter, melted or olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 1/2 c
  • 2 lb
    fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed
  • 1 large
    onion, minced
  • 2 clove
    garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp
    cinnamon (depending on your taste)
  • 1 lb
    orzo pasta, uncooked
  • ·
    freshly grated parmesan or kefalotiri cheese

How to Make Arni Youvetsi (Lamb and Orzo)


  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
  2. Wash and pat dry the leg of lamb. Rub with the lemon juice and pour melted butter or olive oil over. Season generously with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. Place in a large baking pan and pour wine, 1 cup water, the tomato puree, minced onion, garlic and cinnamon around meat (if you have an earthenware casserole - even better!).
  3. Give the sauce a stir and roast, turning meat over occasionally when you see a crust forming (to brown all sides) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (note: Greeks like their lamb well-done, if you prefer a shorter cooking time, cook to your personal preference).
  4. In a large saucepan, bring plenty of water to the boil, salt generously and boil the orzo pasta for 8 minutes. Remove and drain - retain a cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the lamb casserole and give everything a stir to distribute orzo throughout the pan.
  5. Increase heat to 400-degrees and continue to bake another 15-20 minutes, or until pasta is fully cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan (it should still be fairly 'juicy' - not dry). If the pasta is too dry, stir in enough of the pasta cooking water you've retained to keep it saucy.
  6. Have lots of freshly-grated parmesan or kefalotiri cheese to sprinkle over pasta at table.

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