Living in Lapland, some of my local meats include moose and reindeer. Reindeer is available here all year round and every supermarket sells it in some form. This delicious reindeer pasta is easy to prepare, but as reindeer can be hard to find outside of Lapland, this dish can be made using lamb as well. You can save time and use ready-made tagliatelle and pesto and put this dish together for a quick weeknight meal, or choose to make your pasta and sauces from scratch and serve the dish as a main course when you have friends over for a dinner. Either way, both options will produce tasty results!
The base and inspiration for my reindeer pasta comes from Turku, Southwestern Finland, from a restaurant called Blanko. The restaurant’s lamb pasta, lammaspasta, is so popular that it has been on the menu for years (if not decades soon) and I think that removing it from the menu would still cause a flood of unhappy feedback. During the last couple of years, Turku has actually evolved into a great holiday destination for foodies. The city has a lively riverside filled with great restaurants and a vivid nightlife. My reindeer pasta has gotten its inspiration from the original restaurant dish that I’ve developed further over the years by using local ingredients. The cornerstones of the pasta have stayed the same: you just can’t go wrong with good tagliatelle, pesto rosso, great quality meat, pine seeds and rucola.
Preparing the pasta
I generally make my tagliatelle from scratch and I think that it lifts the otherwise basic ingredients to a new level in this dish (or any pasta dish actually, I hardly ever use store-bought pasta anymore after getting the machine). If you have a pasta machine and want to prepare your own pasta for this dish, I recommend using five organic eggs and 500 gr of flour for this five portion meal. I usually roll the tagliatelle with the setting nr. 5 on my Marcato Atlas machine and use the basic tagliatelle blade for cutting the pasta sheet in strips. If you have a pasta machine but are not familiar with the dough making process, there is a great post about it on Serious Eats. Marcato’s own website has a good basic recipe for the pasta dough itself.
The sauce is based on fresh, home-made red pesto. Here’s how to make it at home:
2 dl sundried tomatoes in oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 dl pine seeds
2 dl of basilicum leaves (lightly packed)
0,5 dl grated Parmigiano reggiano
1,5-2 dl olive oil/oil from the sundried tomatoes
You can either prepare the pesto by using the lowest setting of a blender or by hand, using a mortar. In both cases, combine all ingredients besides the oil, and blend/grind until the ingredients are ground small and well mixed together. (There can be some visible pieces left, the consistency of the pesto doesn’t need to resemble a completely homogeneous paste.) Stir in the oil in 2-3 parts.
- Depending on where you live, reindeer tenderloin may be hard to find. Lamb tenderloin works equally well for this recipe
- Use fresh, store-bought tagliatelle instead of home-made pasta
- Replace the home-made pesto with store-bought Pesto Rosso. Use 400-500 gr of ready-made pesto
- Try using fresh spinach leaves or sorrel instead of rucola