Category Archives: Lamb Dishes

Curried Lamb Burgers and Grilled Veggie-Mozzarella Sandwiches

As much as I love a great hamburger, as seen a few posts down, over the past few years, I’ve really started to get into Lamb Burgers. I’ll opt to get that if I see it on a menu when I’m out to eat so I can see how they are prepared. Restaurants also seem to be realizing that patrons are willing to try something a bit out of their comfort zone and offer more lamb on the menu, which I’m really glad to see.
A couple of years ago, Bon Appetit published a recipe that has now become part of my summer rotation. This Curried Lamb Burgers with Grilled Vegetables and Mint Raita is a handful of a title for a dish that is actually super simple to make and has great flavors. The lamb is moist and meaty with a bit of a kick from the curry (without it being too spicy or overwhelming). The yogurt sauce or raita cools it all down with a mint-citrus freshness, and the grilled vegetables take full advantage of the fresh, local produce now available.
This is definitely one of my summertime standby recipes. I love just loading up on eggplant, zucchini, and peppers and grilling up a whole batch to serve alongside these burgers. The burgers themselves freeze very well, so it is easy to have them on hand for a weeknight supper. This weekend, I seemed to have overbought in the vegetable department. I ended up cooking the whole batch and put them into the refrigerator hoping for some culinary inspiration.
Fortunately, I didn’t really have that long to wait. One of my other late-summer favorite meals is a mixed, grilled vegetable sandwich with cheese on toasted bread slathered with homemade pesto. Usually I use a goat’s cheese, but today I had a hankering for mozzarella. So, I headed to Milano Marketplace, the Italian deli down the street, bought some handmade cheese, and went back home to build my perfect sandwich.
I started with a round bread roll, sliced it open, and drizzled extra-virgin olive oil on each of the facing sides. Then, I placed it on a hot grill pan to toast. After about a minute, I took the bottom half of the roll and spread some of the pesto I made earlier onto it along with a few slices of the cheese. I layered the grilled zucchini, squash, eggplant, peppers, and some more mozzarella on top of that.
Then, I put the more-grilled top half of the bread over the filling. The whole sandwich was returned to the grill pan for another minute to warm it all through. Biting into the crisp exterior with the gooey cheese, soft vegetables and savory pesto, this is the perfect summertime meal in a sandwich.

Buon appetito!

Shish Kebab, An Easter Treat

My mom called me the other day to see if I would be traveling to Virginia next weekend for Easter. When I said I wouldn’t be able to make it, I think it started something in my brain about holidays past because I started to crave lamb.  Easter at my parents’ house when I was growing up involved a few fixed things.

Baskets of candy where my brother held hostage his red and orange jellybeans when I tried to swap my yicky black ones with him. My dad trying to get us to drink a glass of milk before we loaded up on the sugar. (I’m not sure if that was really an effective counter-balance.)  Then, there was the vinegar smell from those Paas Easter Egg Kits. Just one glance at the cover of the box even today and that odor comes flooding back at my nose. Despite all the instructions and making them year after year, I still ended up with grey-green eggshells.

Another memory is that of our Easter meal. When it came time to pick the main dish, I would always push for my mother’s shish kebab. I really like lamb, and this was one of the few times in the year that we would have it. Lest you think that I always got my way, one of my sisters would usually push for a baked ham. I think I lost the battle at least 50% of the time, maybe more until I confessed to my mother that I really don’t like baked ham at all.

I picked up a butterflied leg of lamb a few weeks back and then shoved it in the freezer for another day. Having succumbed enough to my pre-Easter craving for this meat to break down and locate the recipe for the shish kebab marinade among my recipe cards, I decided to make it this weekend. The result, with a few of my own additions, is a colorful and flavorful meal that would make a great Easter lunch or dinner, with, of course, some non-black jellybeans for dessert.

Lamb Shish Kebab with Lots of Vegetables

Prep Time: 30-40 minutes, minus marinade time
Serves: 4 adults, 2 skewers each

1 lb. lean lamb, cubed and trimmed of most of the fat
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
2 teaspoons, fresh oregano, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, minced

Vegetables (use any or all to taste):
1 red onion, sliced in half and quartered
1 small red pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

Mix together all the ingredients except for the lamb and the vegetables. Pour marinade into resealable one-gallon-sized plastic bag. Add lamb cubes. Seal bag and toss lamb so that marinade coats the cubes. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.

If using wooden skewers, soak for at least 30 minutes before threading. Remove lamb from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. In the meantime, cut the vegetables and drizzle them with olive oil, a dash of salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Ready to marinate

If using an outdoor grill or griddle (my apartment isn’t ventilated enough to use the latter and it’s illegal to have the former in most NYC places), start heating them up. Alternatively, you can cook the skewers in the broiler of an oven pre-heated to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C, Gas Mark 8). [I use this method, placing them in disposable aluminum trays.]

Thread the skewers alternating meat and vegetables (note to parents – this might help you get more veggies into your kids, it fooled me for years). These don’t have to be neat, but the meat, etc. does have to stay on the skewer. Using a resealable bag makes clean-up much easier.

Place threaded skewers on grill or griddle, or in roasting pan if using oven. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending up on how well-done you would like your meat. Serve, allowing 2 skewers per person for adults.

All skewered – how pretty they look.
Yes, that all-meat skewer is just for you, Mar.

Orzo with Feta & Black Olives

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 adults

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
ground black pepper

Cook orzo according to instructions on the packet. Transfer to a bowl to cool for a few minutes while making dressing. Set aside.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Add to orzo and coat pasta thoroughly (yes, orzo is a pasta). Add chopped black olives and crumbled feta. Mix together. Add lemon zest and toss once or twice more.

Serve one-half cup of cooked orzo with the shish kebab skewers.

Dinner is Served

Buon appetito!