Love me tender: Yotam Ottolenghi’s favourite lamb recipes for summer | Lamb (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

It may sound a contradiction in terms, but the best spring lamb is the stuff we eat in summer

Yotam Ottolenghi

Sat 11 Jun 2016 09.00 BST

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Easter menus may suggest otherwise, but if you want spring lamb, you should be eating it now, in June and July, not in March and April. The lamb you had back then would have been born in October or November, while those born in February or March will have been reared outdoors and fed on grass, and be all the more tender for it.

Lamb wellington with manchego, almonds and smoked aubergine

A cannon of lamb (half the loin, boned, fat removed and rolled) is one of the most tender cuts of meat I know. It works brilliantly in a wellington, but it’s not cheap, so use lamb neck fillet instead, if need be: just make sure it’s trimmed to a roughly even thickness. And while 500g puff pastry is just enough to encase this amount of meat, you may be concerned about rolling it out so thinly, in which case use a 600g block instead. Makes four wellingtons, to serve four or eight

3 large aubergines
70g ground almonds
50g whole almonds, skin on, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5g thyme leaves
5g oregano leaves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp urfa chilli (or ½ tsp regular flakes)
½ tsp ground cumin
60g manchego, roughly grated
4 lamb cannon pieces, each about 250g and measuring about 7cm x 16cm, trimmed of all fat and sinew
1½ tbsp harissa
500g block puff pastry, cut in half
1 egg, whisked

If you have a gas stove, the best way to get aubergine flesh smoky is to ventilate your kitchen and lay an aubergine directly on the open flame (each aubergine will need its own flame, so don’t crowd them). Cook for 15 minutes, turning every now and then, until charred all over and semi-collapsing. (If you have an electric hob, blacken the aubergines on a very hot chargrill pan instead, though they’ll take about 40 minutes and you’ll need to turn them more often.) Transfer the charred aubergines to a bowl and, when cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh into a colander (discard the skin). Set aside for an hour, squeezing the pulp every 15-20 minutes, to extract as much liquid as you can: you should end up with 250-300g aubergine flesh. Transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Spread out both the ground and chopped almonds on a small oven tray and roast for 10 minutes, until golden-brown, then add to the aubergine bowl.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high flame, and fry the onion for eight minutes, stirring a few times, until caramelised and soft. Add the garlic, herbs and spices, cook for a minute, then tip into the aubergine bowl and stir in the cheese and a half-teaspoon of salt.

Put a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Rub the lamb all over with three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Grill the cannons for two minutes in total, turning them every 30 seconds, until charred all over, then brush all over with harissa and leave to cool.

Turn up the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. On a floured work surface, roll out half the pastry block to 2mm thick, then cut into two 26cm x 19cm rectangles. Repeat with the other half-pastry block, so you end up with four rectangles. Keep in the fridge interleaved with sheets of baking paper, so they don’t stick together.

Working with one piece of pastry at a time, position it so that the long side is parallel to the long edge of your floured work surface. Spread a quarter of the aubergine mix in a 1cm-thick, 20cm x 15cm rectangle inside the pastry rectangle. Lay one piece of lamb in the aubergine rectangle, brush the edges of the pastry with egg, and draw first the short and then the long sides of the pastry up and over the meat, to encase. Put the parcel seam side down on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry, aubergine and lamb.

Refrigerate the parcels on their tray for 15 minutes, to chill the pastry, then brush with the remaining egg wash and score three or four parallel lines at an angle on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and golden brown and the lamb is still pink. Leave to rest for five minutes, then serve.

Braised broad beans with lamb and cumin

This is a popular dish in Bethlehem, where it’s usually made with whole broad beans pods and served with rice, bulgur or freekeh. With thanks to Leila Sansour. Serves four.

750g young broad bean pods, topped and tailed
100ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
450g lamb shoulder, cut into 2-3cm dice
20g coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed

Pull off any fibrous threads on both sides of the bean pods, then cut the pods widthways into 5cm pieces.

In a large saute pan for which you have a lid, heat three tablespoons of oil on a medium-high flame. Fry the onion, stirring from time to time, for 12 minutes, until soft and golden brown, then stir in half the garlic and cook for two minutes more. Add the beans, a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, cook for two minutes, then spoon into a bowl.

Wipe clean the pan, add two tablespoons of oil and put on a high heat. Add the lamb, a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and fry, turning regularly, for four to five minutes, until browned on all sides, then stir in the bean mix and add 150ml water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes, until the lamb and beans are both very tender.

While the lamb is cooking, heat a tablespoon and a half of oil in a small frying pan on a high flame. Fry the remaining garlic for two minutes, until golden-brown, then stir in the coriander, cook for a minute, then take off the heat.

Stir the garlic and coriander mix through the stew, sprinkle the cumin on top and serve hot.

Lamb meatballs in avgolemono

Avgolemono is a lemony-eggy Greek sauce that is rich, creamy and dairy-free. Serves four.

3½ tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
750g lamb mince
20g parsley leaves, finely chopped
1½ tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp picked thyme, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
80g fresh breadcrumbs
30g baby capers (or regular capers), roughly chopped
Salt and ground white pepper
4 medium courgettes
3 eggs
Juice of 2 lemons, plus 1 tsp finely grated zest
500ml warm chicken stock
1½ tbsp cornflour, whisked with 2 tbsp water until smooth
40g pine nuts
5g dill or tarragon leaves, chopped
30g pomegranate seeds (optional)

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame. Fry the onion for six minutes, until soft and golden-brown, then take off the heat. Once cool, combine in a bowl with the lamb mince, parsley, allspice, thyme, garlic, breadcrumbs, capers, a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and an eighth of a teaspoon of pepper, then form into 16 roughly 5cm-wide meatballs.

Return the pan to a medium heat with a tablespoon of oil and, once hot, fry the meatballs for 12 minutes, turning them carefully throughout, until cooked through and golden brown all over. Transfer to a plate and wipe clean the pan.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, shave the courgettes lengthways into long, thin strips (a potato peeler is the best tool for this). Once the water starts to boil, blanch the courgette strips for 30 seconds, making sure they are fully submerged, then drain.

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest, half a teaspoon of salt and an eighth of a teaspoon of pepper, then slowly whisk in the warm stock in three or four stages. Whisk in the cornflour paste, then tip the sauce into a large saute pan. Put the pan on a medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for seven to eight minutes, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the meatballs to the sauce, leave them to warm through for five minutes, stirring gently a few times.

Meanwhile, put a small saucepan on a medium heat with the remaining tablespoon and a half of oil and the pine nuts. Stir gently for two to three minutes, roughly crushing some of the nuts as you do so, until golden-brown, then take off the heat.

Divide the courgettes between four shallow bowls, placing them to one side of the bowl, then spoon some meatballs and sauce to the side and on top, making sure some of the courgettes are clearly visible. Top with the pine nuts and their oil, sprinkle with dill and pomegranate seeds, if using, and serve.

• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.


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Love me tender: Yotam Ottolenghi’s favourite lamb recipes for summer | Lamb (2024)


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