Liven up your table this season with a beautiful spring spread featuring a traditional lamb roast. Adding fresh herbs to these dashing dishes will produce a bountiful burst of flavor, fragrance and color. Here, we’ve put together an elegant yet easy menu that is sure to delight the most seasoned palate.
A lovely showstopper that’s full of seasonal flavor, this lamb will delight your peeps as you share a special springtime meal. First, choose the highest quality boneless leg of lamb you can find. The lamb will be rubbed (we like to call it a massage) with the traditional rosemary and garlic, but it truly bursts with flavor when culinary lavender is added.
(We ordered from www.findlavender.com). Be sure to serve the lamb with sweet and sour shallot jam or something similar.
ROASTED LAVENDAR LAMB
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary
4-5 tablespoons of culinary lavender or fresh minced lavender leaves
5 garlic cloves grated (Note: it is very important to grate the garlic rather than slice)
One 3 1/2 lb. boneless leg of lamb (for 6-8 people)
Crushed black pepper
SWEET & SOUR SHALLOT JAM:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup olive oil with the rosemary, lavender and garlic. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper. Start by rubbing half of the herb oil on the inside of the lamb. After that, roll up the lamb to be tied neatly before roasting. Dress the lamb with the remaining herb oil on the outside. Place lamb roast on a rimmed baking sheet.
• Roast the lamb for only about 15 minutes, until its just starting to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and roast lamb for about an hour. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part and when it registers 130 degrees, you will have some very nice, rare meat. Transfer lamb to a kitchen board and let rest for 30 minutes.
• Now, let’s attack the sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add shallots, dates, honey and a pinch of salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the shallots are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and let cool.
• Next, untie the lamb roast and slice the meat against the grain. Serve with the shallot-date jam. Debut this beauty with fresh sprigs of rosemary and lavender.
SUGAR SNAP PEAS GARNISHED WITH MINT
1 1/2 lbs sugar snap peas, trim ends of both sides
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shredded fresh mint leaves (Chefs’ tip: Use kitchen scissors to do the shredding)
Serves 4-6. You will want to double this recipe if you’re expecting a crowd.
• In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the snap peas for 1-3 minutes. You want them to be crisp and tender but not overdone. Take them off the stove and drain. Have a bowl of ice prepared to drain them in order to stop the cooking process. Drain the peas well.
• In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add 1 tablespoon of the mint, peas and season with salt and pepper. Heat the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring until the peas are heated through. This should only take a few minutes.
• For the final touch, sprinkle the remaining fresh mint over the peas. Voila!
CANTALOUPE SALAD WITH BASIL, FRESH MOZZARELLA AND ONIONS
1 medium cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes
10-20 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded (keep a few leaves for garnish)
10-12 green olives, sliced, optional
1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls, sliced into quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
Salt and pepper to taste
• In a large mixing bowl, toss the cantaloupe, basil strips, olives, red onions and mozzarella together.
• Lightly dress the salad with a long pour of olive oil and even longer drizzle of red wine vinegar.
• Toss with lime juice. Generously salt and pepper the salad to taste.
This salad is wonderful eaten right away but tastes even better chilled a few hours before serving. The flavors really come together.
BEAUTIFUL BERRY CRISP
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons flour
4 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into pieces
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup quick oats (quick cooking but not instant)
1/3 cup flour
Fresh basil leaves
• Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine berries, sugar and flour. Toss to coat fruit. Transfer to skillet.
• In another bowl, work the butter in with the brown sugar using a fork, and then work in the oats and flour to create a crumbly mix. Sprinkle over the fruit in the skillet.
• Bake for about 30 minutes until topping is golden and fruit is bubbly.
• Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream. Garnish with basil leaves. Yum!
*Substitute 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, with 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries for a lovely Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.