Manestra is one of my favorite Greek dishes. I didn’t even know it existed until I went to Anna’s a few years ago and Anna herself whipped a batch made with beef, especially for me (her normal manestra has lamb, which I wasn’t fond of at the time). I loved it so much that I ordered it every time I went in. After a while, all that manestra ordering got to be a bit expensive (because, of course, when you go to Anna’s you don’t always just get an entree, right?) and I wanted to learn to make it here at home. This recipe is virtually indistinguishable from Anna’s, and the complex flavors hit the spot every time. I’m making it this week for Presto Pasta Night.
Manestra (Meat with Orzo)
recipe from “The Complete Greek Cookbook” by Theresa Karas Yianilios
1 tbsp. oil
1 lb. beef or lamb stew meat
2 onions, chopped
1 c. tomato sauce or 1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. spearmint flakes (I use about half as much)
4 c. boiling water
1 c. orzo
1 c. grated mizithra cheese (I use a bit less – use Parmesan if you can’t find Mizithra)
Heat oil in large saucepan and brown meat and onions for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomato, seasonings, and 2 cups water. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
Add remaining water and bring to a boil. Add orzo. Stir once or twice. Simmer 20 minutes more. Serve hot with grated cheese. Makes 4 servings.