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Food

Flavorful Variations on Springtime Lamb and Salad

Lamb is a staple of Greek cuisine most often enjoyed on Easter and special occasions. Though it is a red meat and should be eaten in moderation, lamb contains vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, iron, selenium, niacin, phosphorus and zinc that can support the immune system and help keep anemia at bay. A serving of lamb also contains 23 grams of protein, about half the daily recommendation for adults. Spring is also an ideal season to enjoy lamb when fresh greens and herbs are also at their peak.

 

Lamb Meatballs and Salad

1/3 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 pound ground lamb

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish

1 head Romaine lettuce heart, leaves separated

2 roasted red peppers, cut into strips

1 small cucumber, sliced

1/2 cup Greek olives of your choice

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool. Once cool, add the lamb, breadcrumbs, and egg, season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir to combine. With damp hands, form the mixture into 20 walnut-sized balls. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. In batches so as not to crowd the pan, cook the meatballs, turning, for 3-4 minutes until browned all around. Place on a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes until cooked through. Place the yogurt in a bowl with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine. Arrange the lettuce, red peppers, cucumber, and olives on a large serving platter or in individual bowls. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the remaining lemon juice and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle dressing over the salad. Scatter meatballs on top, drizzle with the yoghurt mixture and garnish with mint leaves.

 

Grilled Lamb Chops with Pomegranate and Spinach Salad

Grilled Greek lamb chops. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
Grilled Greek lamb chops. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

For the lamb chops:

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Twelve 3-ounce lamb chops

Greek sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

 

For the salad:

3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Greek sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

One 4-ounce bag baby spinach

1/3 cup roughly chopped mint leaves

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

 

Heat the grill or grill pan over high heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and the maple syrup. Add the garlic and the dry mustard and whisk to combine. Season the lamb chops on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Brush both sides of each lamb chop with the glaze and reserve any extra glaze. Grill the lamb chops, flipping once and brushing with the reserved glaze, for about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and transfer to a plate. Tent with foil and allow to rest.

To make the salad, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the spinach, mint leaves, red onion, pomegranate seeds, and almonds and toss to coat in the dressing. Garnish the lamb chops with the chopped fresh mint and serve with the salad.

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