Although good lamb is available the whole year around, spring lamb is very tasty. We all love good lamb chops or a rack of lamb, but I reserve this for an occasion or a Sunday lunch as these are the most expensive cuts of lamb.
Lamb meatballs are a perennial favourite too, and I often make them Middle Eastern style grilled and served with pita bread and other accompaniments, which can be a bit much for a quick weekday night dinner. There are some delicious recipes by Ottolenghi as well as Honey & Co. for lamb meatballs, which are excellent for grilling.
This recipe is inspired by one from River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It’s essentially one dish, lamb meatballs served atop a hearty salad. The best part of the dish is that the lamb meatballs cook in the oven, leaving you free to put the salad together in the meanwhile. The quinoa can be cooked anytime earlier, as it needs to be room temperature for the salad.
A word about the ingredients:
It’s intriguing to see the same ingredients pop up across India and the Middle East in different forms. Dried pomegranate powder (called “anardana” in India) is used to add tang to many north Indian dishes. In the Middle East, all the way from Iran to North Africa, it’s used widely as molasses, which is essentially thickened pomegranate syrup, reminiscent of aged balsamico. Having tried both the local Waitrose brand and one from my local North African store, I find the latter thicker, punchier and fresher. Use any you can get your hands on. I strongly recommend stocking a bottle. It has a long shelf life, doesn’t need refrigeration, and is excellent for any salads accompanying a Middle Eastern inspired meal.
Quinoa or bulgur
The original recipe had bulgur wheat, but I swapped out the bulgur for quinoa, only because I always stock quinoa at home. By all means, feel free to use bulgur, giant couscous or even whole grain barley, whatever you have handy.
This is a tangy dried berry powder which is excellent for sprinkling on hummus, adding to lamb & chicken marinades, and is essential for salads like the Middle Eastern fattoush. Don’t buy it just for his recipe. Replace with an additional squeeze of lemon.