Yogurt Spaghetti & Lamb Meatballs

Yogurt spaghetti? Really? Yes really.

Well, not really, if you think I mean spaghetti made from yogurt. I mean a spaghetti tossed in a sauce made from thick, creamy, tangy Greek yogurt. Mixed with fresh baby spinach and topped with sweet, spicy, and savory lamb meatballs, and you have my post for May’s trip to Greece on My Kitchen, My World.

Let’s start with the meatballs. I took ground lamb meat and mixed it with grated onion, garlic, toasted pine nuts, fresh mint and parsley, and to add sweetness and take some of the edge off of the gamey flavor, some honey. Since this is a Greek inspired dish, I also tossed in plenty of cumin, cinnamon, and oregano to try to mirror the flavors of a good gyro too.

To make things a little easier, I browned the meatballs on the stove top before setting them on a wire rack set in a baking sheet to bake the rest of the way through while I cooked the pasta and made the sauce. Choosing a whole wheat pasta for its nutty flavor, I cooked the pasta according to package directions for al dente then reserved a half cup of the starchy cooking liquid. This was mixed into 2 cups of Greek yogurt and plenty of sharp Romano cheese. Fresh baby spinach added some nice crunch while topping everything off with plenty of fresh mint and parsley made this creamy, hearty pasta bright in flavor. If I did this again, I’d probably take a tip from an Amy Sedaris recipe for yogurt spaghetti by adding a ton of caramelized, sweet onions. That way, the pasta itself would have more flavor. As this recipe that I’m about to give you will be written, you have to take a bite of the meatball with each bite of pasta and spinach to maximize the flavor, but oh what flavor! If you’re looking for a twist on spaghetti and meatballs, give this a try for its balance of sweet, spice, tang, and fresh green flavors.

Note: You can use any grated, sharply flavored cheese here, be it Parmesan or of course, a Greek cheese like myzithra; Romano is just what I had on hand. If you wanted to add onion to the yogurt, I’d take a large, sweet onion, finely dice it then cook it over low heat in a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter with a pinch of sugar to help the caramelization. Stir occasionally to keep from burning, and cook until golden, yellow-brown, probably about 35-40 minutes.

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup each chopped fresh parsley and mint (taking out 1 tablespoon from each to put into meatballs)
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked to al dente according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil and placing a wire rack on it. In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, grated onion, grated garlic, steak seasoning, cumin, oregano, coriander, cinnamon, egg, bread crumbs, pine nuts, honey, and 1 tablespoon each of the chopped fresh mint and parsley. Mix together with hands until just combined, then form into 1 inch meatballs. You should get about 18-20 meatballs.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add half of the meatballs, browning on each side before removing to the prepared baking sheet, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with second batch of meatballs then place in oven, cooking for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

While meatballs bake, cook  and drain pasta, reserving a half cup of the cooking water. Mix the yogurt, grated cheese, and pasta water together until you reach a sauce consistency. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper or to taste. Mix the sauce together with the cooked pasta and spinach. Plate pasta with 3-4 meatballs then top with a sprinkle of reserved fresh mint and parsley.

Yields 4-5 servings.

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Moroccan Spiced Lamb Stew

Let me tell you about the newest addition to our household– our slow cooker. This may not be exciting news to you, but let me tell you that I have longed for one for so long. There were just too many cooking options that I could not attempt without one. So many delicious, tender, braised meats; so many deeply flavored soups and stews that only slow cooking can bring.

Once we got a slow cooker, I didn’t know where to begin. For me, the slow cooker in my household while I was growing up was dedicated to one thing only– smelly Chinese medicines that my mother would cook once a month to restore her health after a monthly event, the drift of which I’m sure you’re catching. Otherwise, the only other thing I knew a slow cooker was good for was for casseroles of the open-cans-of-stuff-dump-and-top-with-cheese variety. And while there’s nothing wrong with a good creamy, cheesy casserole every now and then, a perusal of Food and Wine‘s slow cooker recipe collection opened the door to me of all the new and improved, foodie friendly slow cooker recipes out there. I played around with a lot of them to get ideas before improvising some slow cooker recipes of my own. Here’s one that I think would make a nice addition to that collection, maybe even rival them.

I took pieces of lamb shoulder and coated them with a mix of spices to make it heady with Moroccan flavor: paprika, cinnamon, coriander, fennel. After a light dredge in flour, I browned the pieces, giving the sides of each piece a beautiful brown crust. I added those pieces to the slow cooker but didn’t want to lose the flavors of the fond that formed from browning the lamb, so I sautéed the onions and garlic in that pot before adding some of the beef stock to deglaze. These were then added to the slow cooker too, along with canned tomatoes, dried apricots for sweetness, whole almonds, some heat and more Moroccan flavor from a couple of tablespoons of harissa,  and a bright burst of green from fava beans. The slow cooker melded all the flavors together for me so that all I had left to do to make it a complete meal was cook some couscous.

Well, one other thing too. The deep red color of the stew and its complexity of spices made me crave something cool and tangy for contrast. I mixed together Greek yogurt and tons of fresh mint, chives, and cilantro. In the end, I had a lovely bowl of heavenly scented, warm and spicy lamb stew with a pile of herb-redolent and nutty couscous in the center, and a light drizzle of slightly sour flavored yogurt. So delicious and spicy, I think the only thing needed to complete the Moroccan experience was to don a fez.

Note: I got the idea for this stew while researching uses for fava beans. A website noted that Moroccan Jews would eat a stew made from lamb and green almonds. I realize that green almonds are not the same as regular almonds, but I didn’t have ready access to them. If you know where to find some, try swapping those out for the almonds in the stew but keep toasted almonds for the couscous. The idea for adding gelatin to help make the stew feel silky came from Cook’s Illustrated‘s recipe for the ultimate beef stew. If you’re adverse to gelatin, you can try skipping it, substituting a knob of butter mixed with an equal amount of flour than adding that to the stew to thicken it slightly. Lastly, harissa is generally a blend of tomatoes, red peppers, preserved lemon, and garlic. I can find it readily now in the ethnic food section so hopefully you can find it too. My favorite one is super hot, so try yours first and use to taste.

Lamb Stew

  • 2.25 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved then sliced 1/4 inch thick from pole to pole for half moon shapes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (yields about 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup whole roasted almonds (plus 2 tablespoons more, chopped for couscous)
  • 6 oz dried apricots, roughly chopped and divided
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 cup fava beans
  • 1 teaspoon plain gelatin powder and 1/4 cup water
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes

Couscous

  • 1 box  or 2 cups plain couscous
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or however much liquid is required by package directions)
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh chives, cilantro and parsley

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon each mint and chives
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves

In a heavy bottomed, large skillet or in a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Place lamb pieces in a large baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, fennel seed, coriander, cinnamon, and about 1.5 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Scatter the spice mix over the lamb pieces and mix with your hands until each piece is coated. Place flour on a plate and dredge each piece of lamb in the flour, shaking off excess flour before adding half the batch of lamb to your heated pan. Cook carefully, browning each side of each lamb piece, about 4-5 minutes per side or until brown crust forms. Remove lamb to slow cooker then repeat with remaining lamb pieces, adding more oil if necessary.

With one tablespoon of fat remaining in pan (so add more oil, if necessary), cook the onion and garlic until onion is browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of beef stock, and using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits off of bottom of pan. Add the contents, stock included, to the slow cooker along with the remaining 1.5 cups of beef stock, 1 cup of whole almonds, harissa, and 2/3 of the chopped apricots. Add the tomatoes, using your hands and fingers to squeeze and break apart the tomatoes (careful– they’re squirty!) as well as the tomato juices. Program your cooker to cook on high for 5 hours then leave it alone.

Sprinkle gelatin over water and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add this (or kneaded butter– see note) and the fava beans then continue to cook the stew on high for another 30 minutes.

While stew finishes cooking, make couscous according to package directions. Fluff the couscous with a fork then fold in the chives, parsley, cilantro, remaining almonds and remaining chopped apricots.

While couscous cooks, make the yogurt sauce by adding all the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth.

Season stew with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, add a ladle or two of the stew to wide, shallow bowls. Put a small scoop of couscous in the center of each bowl and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Sprinkle more fresh herbs for color if you wish.

CSA Count: 4

Fava beans, garlic, cilantro, chives

Garden Count: 1

Mint

Spiced Lamb Meatballs

Recently, John and I used a gift card to a restaurant run by local restaurant emperor Tom Douglas. On the menu, they specified that the arugula was “Beacon Hill arugula.” This was amusing news to us as John’s arugula has been fiestier than ever this year– you hack it to pieces and it grows back within 3 days. It’s intensely peppery (in a delicious way) and has a texture that I’m not quite sure how to describe: kind of meaty really, more give to the teeth than arugula we otherwise get from the CSA or from the store. We wonder what it is about the soil in our BeHi neighborhood that is apparently producing such amazing arugula but I don’t want to think too much about it in case that means we’re getting some strong pollutants in our soil, leaching over here from the South Park area.

I bring this up because between our garden and our CSA so far this summer, I have been hard pressed to think of different ways to use up arugula. Good thing John’s declared it to be his favorite green. With this dish, I decided to make some spiced lamb meatballs and sit them up on some crunchy arugula with a drizzle of tzatziki. It was during one of the few very hot days we’ve had out here so I craved that cooling crunch of cucumber, yogurt and fresh greens when contrasted with spices like cinnamon, fennel, and cumin.

I set to work by combining ground lamb with those spices, a bit of grated onion for flavor and moisture, lots of fresh herbs, and for a hint of sweetness and contrasting texture, a little surprise– reconstituted golden raisins. I browned the meatballs in a pan before setting them in the oven to finish cooking through. The meatballs stood tall on a large handful of fresh arugula (a mix from our CSA and our garden), were dutifully drizzled with the yogurt/cucumber sauce, and topped off with more fresh herbs. With an additional side of crispy, pan-fried smashed baby red potatoes, this was such a fun tribute to Greek food and an entire meal– starch, meat, and vegetable– all on one plate. Lesser cleanup on a hot day is just fine with me!

Note: I bet these meatballs would be even better with the buttery, nutty crunch of pine nuts. Try adding maybe 2-3 tablespoons of them to the meatball mixture. This recipe can feed 3-4.

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon each fresh mint, parsley, and oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 small white onion, grated
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch arugula leaves

Tzatziki

  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (yields about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon each chopped mint and parsley
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, add raisins and cover with water. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until water is steaming. Set aside, letting sit for at least 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ground lamb, steak seasoning, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of each of the fresh herbs, grated onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, and garlic. Drain the raisins and add to the mixture. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients together until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Roll into 1 inch meatballs– you should get 17-18 in total.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add 1/2 of the meatballs and brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Set the meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet while you brown the second batch. When browned, add the remaining meatballs to the baking sheet and bake in oven for 7-10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

While meatballs bake, combine the ingredients for the tzatziki in a small bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. When meatballs are done cooking, plate 4-5 meatballs on a large pile of washed and spun dry arugula leaves. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of tzatziki on top, then sprinkle with remaining teaspoons of fresh herbs. Serve remaining tzatziki at the table if diners wish to add more.

CSA Count: 1

Arugula

Garden Count: 3

Arugula, mint, and oregano

Lamb Chops with Spinach Mint Pesto

Here’s the deal– when I made this for dinner, it was in my mind a lesser star on the cast billing that night. I had an obsession with sunchokes that I found were for sale on our grocery delivery service. I’d never used sunchokes before but loved them when I ate them in restaurants so I was eager to play with this new to me ingredient. The obsession got worse when the delivery service sent me 1 large artichoke as a substitute when they ran out of sunchokes the week I ordered them. A single email complaint resulted in tons of apologies via phone and email from the service (hello awesome customer service folks at Amazon Fresh!) and a batch of sunchokes was automatically included for free in my next order.

But what does this have to do with the lamb chops, I bet you’re wondering by now. I knew I wanted to prep sunchokes in the simplest form I could think of to appreciate their taste so I thought of making a puree with potatoes (potatoes being recommended to lessen the umm… less desirable effects of sunchokes on the digestive system) so some kind of tasty meat dish had to be made. Meat and potatoes: it’s culinarily instinctual. But when it comes down to deciding which part of the meal to blog? Well, lamb chops with a minty pesto seems like the more interesting thing to write about. Afterall, with the sunchoke potato puree, I can quickly sum it up here: peel, boil, and mash with cream.

Lamb chops and mint are also culinarily instinctual, but I prefer complexity and herbaceousness to my mint topping rather than sticky, toothpastey jelly. I decided to incorporate mint by making a pesto, the toasted almonds adding a lightly buttery nuttiness to round out the mint. I also blended in a bit of parsley to add a little lemony undertone, brought out a bit more by lemon zest, and a handful of spinach for some bitterness and to deepen the green color. Finally, a touch of honey brought some sweet notes to the pesto. When a spoonful of this pesto sits on top of lamb chops fresh out of the pan (or off the grill now that summer’s here!) it gets ever so slightly runny, wrapping the lamb in its bright, nicely balanced flavors.

Note: To add a little heat to this pesto, add 1 roughly chopped jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if you just want the peppery taste and not the heat… wuss) to pesto ingredients. Leftover pesto is delicious when mixed in with pasta or sautéed vegetables, particularly when mixed with cooked orzo pasta and some feta cheese.

  • 1 lb lamb chops (4 oz each)
  • olive oil (about 1/2 cup plus an additional tablespoon divided)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet (or some other oven-proof skillet) over medium high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb chops with Montreal steak seasoning. Quickly sear the chops, about 2-3 minutes on each side then move the skillet to the oven and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes or until chops reach desired degree of doneness. An instant read thermometer will register 140 degrees for rare. Remove the chops to a plate and tent with foil while you make the pesto.

Combine the rest of the ingredients (almonds through honey) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Turn on the processor and slowly drizzle in up to 1/2 cup of olive oil through the feed tube processing until the pesto has a slightly saucy, emulsified consistency. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Serve chops with 1 tablespoon of pesto on top of each one, and with the rest of the pesto in a small bowl to add more at the table if you wish.

Greek Meatloaf Sandwich

One of the things I miss the most about Chicago is the Greek family diner. It’s essentially your typical coffee shop kind of restaurant (think Denny’s or Shari’s) but owned by a Greek family so there’s plenty of Greek  foods on the menu. It’s not unusual to get a spanakopita (Americanized by calling just calling it spinach pie) and fries or a gyro platter (pronouncing it with a hard “j” sound like it is a spinning top, of course) at the same time someone else at your table is getting steak and eggs. It’s a phenomenon that I just haven’t seen replicated with such fervor anywhere else. Yes, including you Salt Lake with the run of Greek family owned fast food chains– just not the same as the sit down diner experience. Then again, I’m not sure why I’m describing this in such detail when anyone who hasn’t been to Chicago can get the basic idea by watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

What does this have to do with meatloaf you ask? Well if you’re ignorant like me who only learned this a couple of years ago while watching Alton Brown, gyros are essentially giant meat loaves: ground meat, spices, garlic, and onions are formed into a large loaf and roasted on a spit. The meat is thinly shaved off of the roast for your sandwich. I just thought it was thin slices of a lamb roast cooked on a griddle, perhaps because the gyros I grew up around were overcooked, practically crispy pieces of lamb meat. I don’t think I truly had a gyro until law school: there’s a fabulous Middle Eastern restaurant in the U District whose gyros I crave because the texture of the thin slices are so soft and tender, somehow holding together while driving it home that the slices are actually made up of tiny, juicy morsels of ground meat.

So one night, I tried to combine the best of two worlds, by making a gyro platter of my own, only hoping that my gyro would be more of the texture of the gyro I love from here in Seattle. What’s that pictured above you ask? Well, instead of making regular potato fries, I had a bunch of purple potatoes from the CSA that week so I tried making salt and vinegar potato chips out of them for my platter. These potato slices were thinly sliced (about 1/8 of an inch), tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, flipping them over about halfway through cooking. They were finished with a liberal dousing of malt vinegar, more salt and red pepper flakes. (I say this here since these were not the star of this post.)

I thought that maybe I could recreate the gyro cooking process by forming a meatloaf out of ground lamb, cooking it in my oven then delicately shaving off slices, you know, since I don’t seem to have a giant rotisserie spit in my kitchen. Not a bad idea, but, well, let’s just say that I didn’t want an overly dry meat loaf, so when it looked like it was done cooking and had a nice caramelization on the outside, it was probably too moist. I just couldn’t shave off tender, thin slices– getting large crumbles instead. I got frustrated and ended up just cutting the loaf into slices, figuring I’d call this a Greek meatloaf sandwich and pretend I meant to do it that way. So uh, yeah– forget everything I just said.

No matter what you call it, this was so delicious. The meat was tender and juicy, a little spicy from a dash of cinnamon and cumin, which contrasted beautifully with the creamy, cucumber cool tzatziki. It may not have worked as envisioned, but it still presented prettily, don’t you think?

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • pitas
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup Greek style yogurt
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, chiffonade
  • 1 tsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and steak seasoning. Mix together using your hands until just combined. On a foil lined baking sheet, shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape, about 3 inches wide in diameter. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers about 325 degrees F. Remove and let sit before you slice.

While the lamb loaf is cooking, combine the yogurt, parsley, mint, cucumber, lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, and the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also make a Greek salad by combining a couple of chopped and peeled cucumbers, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, a handful of Kalamata olives, and a sliced small red onion with a dressing made up of lemon juice, olive oil, and lots of fresh mint and parsley. Don’t forget to fold in some crumbled Feta.

To assemble the sandwiches, cut the meatloaf into 1 inch thick slices. Put a little bit of tzatziki sauce at the bottom of a pita then add a couple of slices of meatloaf (or more if you like a big, Dagwood style sandwich, I suppose.) Top with more tzatziki and some spinach leaves. Serve with lots of napkins!

CSA Count: 3 (boost it up to 5 when you include the sides)

Cucumber, onion, garlic (purple potatoes, sungold cherry tomatoes)

Roasted Lamb: Vancouver Edition

I am really fortunate that my family owns a condo up in Vancouver, B.C. A three hour drive from Seattle (including border crossing wait), Vancouver has become a much depended upon weekend escape for me. I know that sounds silly– escaping from one cloudy, rainy city to another one further north, but there’s just something about the feel of the city that is different enough to make me feel like I’ve changed continents temporarily, and no, I don’t just mean the fact that their coffee shops serve Candadianos instead of Americanos.

I also get a kick out of how this one city embodies different routines for different members of my family. When my parents come here it’s all about getting as close to a Hong Kong experience as possible as they search out and go to the latest “best” Chinese restaurant recommended to them. When my brother and his family stay there each July, it’s a true long vacation experience with bike rides, trips to the beaches, and finding really cool take out options. And when John and I go there, we are guaranteed to spend one afternoon at the Granville Island Public Market stuffing our faces then troving out what looks fresh to take back to the condo to cook dinner.

These routines clash when more than one of these factions are in the condo at the same time. For instance, when my parents and an uncle wanted to go up to Vancouver with John and me one weekend, they scoffed at my suggestion that we try out John’s and my market routine. My father even said, “Nobody can cook at the condo!” despite the fact that we have a kitchen stocked with some modest cooking supplies. So I offer up this and the following post as proof that yes, you can cook at the condo!

This meal was made during John’s and my most recent Vancouver visit. At the market that day, I saw several stands offering lamb roasts, including this nice little 2 pounder that looked like it could serve two instead of the usual roast for 10. The vegetable stand was teeming with late summer, early fall harvest finds including the fennel, fingerling potatoes and fresh figs that we ended up purchasing. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do and didn’t decide until the very last minute that I wanted to keep the figs separated from the lamb in a separate salad (post to follow later this week.) Given the limited cooking utensils and other paraphernalia in the condo kitchen, I decided to just roast the lamb with garlic and rosemary on a bed of the fennel and fingerling potatoes– a simple one pan meal.

Things got more complicated since the condo lacks a meat thermometer, so after looking up some lamb roast recipes online for ideas as to temperature, I guessed at how long I would have to cook this significantly smaller roast than the ones in the recipes I found. We ended up with tender slices of still rare lamb, served on a bed of sweet, roasted fennel and potatoes spiked with woodsy rosemary. All of this was perfectly accompanied with the sparkling rose we found at a nearby wine store. As you can see from above, the view ain’t a half bad dinner accompaniment either!

  • 1 2.5 lb boneless lamb leg roast
  • 1.5 lb fingerling potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb, halved then sliced lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic, 3 sliced thinly and 1 minced
  • 3 long sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub olive oil all over your roast and season with salt, pepper, and about 2/3 of your rosemary. Cut little slits, about 1/8 of an inch deep, here and there all over the lamb and wedge a slice of garlic in each cut. Set aside

Toss the potatoes and fennel with about 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, the minced garlic, and the rest of your rosemary. Spread these out over the bottom of a roasting pan and set the lamb on top of that. Cook for about 45 minutes or until your meat thermometer reaches 145 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing the roast and serving slices on top of the mix of potatoes and fennel.

Lamb & Black Bean Burgers

My husband has recently become a devoted follower of Amazon Fresh. I admit to loving it too– after all, I got my grocery shopping listed (but not purchased) before we left for our holiday weekend in Cannon Beach. Ground lamb was on sale, so we added that to the list. I started off dreaming about lamb burgers, maybe with a tzatziki sauce of some kind, but John nixed the sauce idea. Apparently I’ve made falafel a little too often as of late.
I’m not sure where the inspiration to use black beans came from, it mostly came to mind because I had an extra can sitting in the pantry. Sometimes Amazon Fresh only lets you order items at a minimum quantity of 2. This can’s mate was used in my burritos (will probably post that sometime) and I lacked any plans for this can other than probably for another set of burritos. Perhaps I was partially inspired by this favorite recipe for black bean cakes, but I think it was because I thought about the flavor profile that links lamb and black beans together in my mind– the earthy spice of cumin.

These burgers came together nicely: seared in a hot cast iron skillet so it had a nice crust on the outside and the black beans helped the burgers retain moisture while giving a nice, almost al dente bite to mix with the softness of the ground meat. I topped it with my favorite sandwich spread of late: a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, whole grain and Dijon mustard with a little bit of chopped chives from the CSA. (Admittedly, the sauce is a modified version of one from Ina Garten.) If I had more patience, I would have put these out on the grill instead of the pan but I couldn’t wait for coals to heat up not that it mattered since we don’t have any charcoal at the moment. My other thought is that I slightly overcooked these– they would have been better on the rarer side (time suggestion below is adjusted accordingly.) Also, John and I are still in disagreement about the condiment: I’d still like to use tzatziki as I think the slight sour of the yogurt and the cool crunch of the cucumber and mint might be a nice contrast to the burger’s spice but John thinks it’d cover up the spice which is what he liked about this. What do you think?


1 lb ground lamb
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
~ 1.5 tbs Montreal Steak Seasoning
Dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 chopped green onions
2 cloves fresh garlic (from the CSA)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp whole grain mustard
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives.

Mix together the lamb, beans, spices, green onion and garlic, but be careful not to over mix. Divide into four portions for 4 hefty-ish patties. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat then add 1 tbsp of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle salt (preferably kosher) and pepper on both sides of your patties so they’ll get that nice crust. Place the patties in the pan and sear for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until they reach your desired doneness. Let them rest while you toast your buns. (hehe… buns.) Mix together the ingredients for your sauce (unless you’re like me and the sauce is left over from a little over a week ago when you made sandwiches of some kind) and top your burgers with about a tbsp each. I served mine with some homemade stove top mac n’ cheese (look Mom– cheese and lamb– you don’t like either!) and a fresh salad that John threw together using CSA butter lettuce and arugula from our garden. A nice summer time dinner, especially when paired with some rose sparkling wine which we drank because it’s been sitting in our fridge for a couple of months now.

CSA Count: 2- fresh garlic and chives (but if you count the salad then 4, adding butter lettuce and carrots.)