I used to really despise mint with my food. Mint in my mojito, good. Mint in my keftedes, no good. You see, there are many regional variations in Greek cuisines and some cook with copious amounts of mint. The first time I had meatballs and dolmades with mint, I was really thrown off guard, and was not a fan. However, through the years (well, really…the last year), I’ve come to like it in savory dishes – so long as those dishes are not classic Greek dishes I grew up with. :)
Jamie Oliver posted this recipe on Twitter the other day and I instantly added it to the menu the following week. It looked so colorful, gorgeous, seasonal, and perfect. Plus, the wonderful people at Lava Lake Lamb had contacted me not long before to ask if I wanted some more lamb to sample. Um, yes please?! They were generous enough to send me some before, so I already knew it would be fantastic. They produce 100% grass-fed, organic lamb. And it’s amazingly delicious.
If that’s not enough reason, then the fact that I’m not visiting my family for Easter and, therefore, not getting to eat lamb on a spit, sealed the deal. Easter a few days early for this household!
The original recipe calls for boiling the vegetables and also making a pan sauce with the lamb drippings. I’m not a fan of boiled vegetables. At all. So, I decided to roast the vegetables. I parboiled the potatoes and carrots since those take a little longer, and then I just tossed them with the rest of the vegetables into the roasting pan while the meat rested. This way, they picked up more flavor and a better texture, but without any more effort. I didn’t even bother with the pan sauce since I didn’t feel it needed it and the mint oil was enough additional flavor.
Jamie says this serves four, but it definitely serves more than that, unless you have some BIG eaters (like, eating-more-than-a-pound-of-meat-and-a-plateful-of-veggies-big).
This was a really delicious dinner. My lamb turned out perfectly cooked (in between medium rare and medium) and the vegetables and mint added a great lightness and brightness to the meat. It was Zachary’s first time eating lamb and he absolutely inhaled it, so it’s obvious he is a true Greek.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 leg of lamb (about 4.5 lbs.)
1 large bunch mint
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil plus a little more for roasting vegetables
1 lb. new or red potatoes, quartered
1/2 lb. baby carrots
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 lb. zucchini, sliced
1 leek, sliced
1/2 lb. yellow beans or haricots vert
1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Score the lamb, and season liberally with salt and pepper.
In a food processor, pulse the mint with the garlic until combined, and then stream in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside about 1/3 of the mixture to use for spooning over the final product.
Brush the lamb with the remaining mint oil and then place in the oven. Roast until an internal thermometer reads 140 or to your desired degree of doneness (140 is medium rare, and will also go up a bit as it rests), about 1.5 – 2 hours, brushing 2 or 3 times with additional mint oil as it roasts. Remove the lamb from the pan and rest it under an aluminum foil tent for 15 minutes. Slice.
Meanwhile, add the potatoes and baby carrots to a pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are about halfway done.
In a large bowl, mix the potatoes and carrots together with the remaining vegetables. Drizzle with just a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Remove the fat from the roasting pan and pour in the vegetables. Roast for 15 minutes (while your meat is resting).
Serve the sliced lamb on top of the vegetables and drizzle with the reserved mint oil.