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Beef & Gruyère lasagne

25 Jul

I’m a huge fan of Terra del Capo – the Italian-inspired wine range & destination by Rupert Wines, a premium wine estate situated on the outskirts of Franschhoek. Apart from classical Italian wine varietals, they offer a range of Italian-style tapas at their tasting room eatery, one of which is a mini lasagne. It pairs beautifully with their Sangiovese, a red wine with juicy cherry and plum flavours, tinged with spice and black pepper. The team of Terra del Capo approached me to create a lasagne recipe of my own to celebrate their Sangiovese in these colder months – what better than a glass of red with a freshly baked, hearty lasagne for dinner?

My recipe to pair with Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese is a beef & Gruyère lasagne, made with 100% pure beef mince, fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme & sage, beef stock, red wine (Sangiovese, of course), and smoked paprika for added smokiness and to elevate the slow cooked beef flavours. Instead of parmesan cheese, which is delicious but can be very expensive, I’ve chosen a local vintage Gruyère-style cheese – strong and nutty. It just goes a little further than the parmesan, and is a much better choice than a young cheddar or mozzarella. If you want to use cheddar, a 9-12 month mature will also work wonders.

My lasagne was made with freshly rolled pasta sheets – only because I recently got the attachment for my Kenwood mixer – what a pleasure! If you don’t have a pasta machine at home, store-bought dried lasagne sheets work just as well and they don’t need pre-cooking because my bolognese sauce is quite saucy.

My lasagne has four layers, so when you’re assembling keep in mind how much meat sauce and bechamel you’re using to have enough left for a last top layer of meat and a thick layer of bechamel. It makes all the difference.

This is a family-size lasagne and the recipe can easily be halved to serve only 4. However, if you’re going to take the effort to make something as delicious as this, you might as well make enough to last for seconds and thirds over the next few days. It lasts very well in the fridge (for a few days) and can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

For the beef bolognese sauce:

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful fresh herbs, finely chopped (rosemary, thyme, sage)
  • 250 ml red wine (Terra del Capo Sangiovese)
  • 375 ml beef stock (or 1 stock cube dissolved in 375 ml boiling water)
  • 800 g canned Italian whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 10 ml sugar
  • 10 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large heavy based pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrot & celery. Stir, then cover with a lid and leave to steam while frying (you don’t want to brown these yet, you just want it to soften.) Fry, stirring often, for about 7-8 minutes until they are soft.
  2. Add the mince and turn the heat up to high. Stir, breaking up all the lumps as you go. The meat will at a stage release quite a lot of liquid, just keep on cooking until it evaporates and starts to fry in it’s own fat. You want the bottom to start catching and turn brown – it takes about 15 minutes.
  3. When the bottom starts to turn brown, add the garlic and herbs and fry for another minute. Then add the red wine and remove the pot from the heat for a minute to stir and loosen any sticky brown bits from the bottom. If you don’t do this, the pot might burn easily later on.
  4. Return the pot to high heat, add the stock, pureed tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the bottom from burning. When done, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Note: The bolognese can be made a day in advance, cooled and refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave for easier assembly.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until ready to assembly.

For the bechamel (white sauce):

  • 80 g (1/3 cup) butter
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 liter milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
  • 5 ml salt (plus more, if necessary)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour, stirring. Cook for at least 2 minutes taking care not to brown the butter.
  2. Add the milk all at once, stirring vigorously with a wire whisk at first. Continue stirring every now and then as it heats up, taking care to scrape the bottom as the sauce starts to thicken. Just as the sauce starts to bubble and it gets thick like custard, stir very well and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the nutmeg, mustard, salt & pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning – the bechamel should not be bland, it should be able to “stand on its own”. Cover with a lid until ready to assemble.

For assembly:

  • 1 batch bechamel sauce (see above)
  • about 500 g fresh lasagne sheets or 400 g dried lasagne sheets
  • 1 batch bolognese sauce (see above)
  • 200 g mature Gruyère-style cheese, coarsely grated (about 3 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Whisk the bechamel to remove any skins that has formed on top. (Heat the bolognese sauce in the microwave, if using from refrigerated.)
  3. In a large deep oven dish or roasting tray (about 30 x 22 x 7 cm) , add a ladle full of bechamel on the bottom of the dish and spread it all over to prevent the pasta from sticking. Continue with your first layer of lasagne sheets, covering the whole surface (break/cut off pieces if they’re too big). Continue with your first layer of meat sauce, spreading it out into the corners. Then your first proper layer of bechamel – not too much, just drizzle a ladle-full all over and continue.
  4. Now do the second layer of bechamel, pasta, meat sauce & bechamel. Sprinkle half the cheese over.
  5. Assemble the third and the fourth layers. End with a thick layer of bechamel and top with the other half of the cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, then turn up the heat to 220 C and continue for another 10-15 minutes until it is golden brown and bubbly on top.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to stand at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving – the lasagne will be very runny at first but will stabilize on standing. Serve hot with a green side salad and Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese.

This post was proudly created in collaboration with Terra del Capo.

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Mutton shank on hummus with roasted red onion and brown sugar pumpkin

10 Jul

Mutton shank with baby red onions, slow roasted in white wine with a few aromatic spices and herbs, on a bed of hummus with cubed sweet butternut, toasted almonds and parsley.

 

My husband just returned from a week in Porto and I wanted to welcome him home with a special dinner. I had a beautiful 1kg mutton shank in the freezer thanks to The Boer & Butcher as part of a recent campaign with Allesverloren Wines. After paging through Phillippa Cheifitz’s book Make It Easy, I found some inspiration with her roast Middle Eastern-spiced lamb on hummus. Serving meat on a bed of hummus takes the idea of “loaded hummus” to another level. It is incredibly flavourful and works so well with the deep umami flavours of the slow roasted shank.

Another revelation was the pearly small red onions. They became so soft and caramelized and released so much flavour into the cooking liquid. It provided the perfect concentrated meat sauce for spooning over the meat and hummus. For added texture, a few chopped toasted almonds did the trick.

I’ll be making this again and again – a winning dish. Thank you Allesverloren for the inspiration (and the fantastic bottle of Três Vermelhos which we consumed immediately) and Boer & Butcher for the delicious meat.

The shank and onions, prepped before going into the oven. Note: This is a 30cm round casserole. The 1 kg shank is enough for 2 generous portions.

 

For the roasted shank: (serves 2)

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 1 kg mutton shank, whole
  • about 10 baby red onions, peeled & halved (or 2-3 large red onions, quartered)
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 5 ml ground fennel
  • 5 ml ground cumin
  • 5 ml smoked paprika
  • about 6 sprigs thyme, woody stalks removed
  • salt & pepper
  • 250 ml dry white wine

Pre-heat oven to 160 C. In a deep oven dish with lid, drizzle the bottom with half the oil, then place the shank on top and arrange the onions around it. Pour over the win. Drizzle the meat with the rest of the oil and with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with fennel, cumin, paprika, and place the thyme all over. Season generously with salt & pepper, then roast open for 1 hour. Turn oven down to 140 C, then cover the oven dish with a lid and roast for another 4 hours, turning the meat over half way through (the meat should be very tender and pretty much falling from the bone). Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, covered with the lid, before serving. Remove the bone (it should be quite easy) and tear the meat into chunky shreds. Immerse the shreds in the pan juices before serving.

For the hummus:

(Note: I left garlic out of this hummus recipe for a milder result, but feel free to add a small clove. If you don’t have access to tahini, which can be an expensive ingredient, try a small amount of unflavoured peanut butter.)

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 45 ml tahini/sesame paste (or 5 ml unflavoured smooth peanut butter)
  • juice of half a lemon (about 15-30 ml)
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 ml warm water
  • salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or high power blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning, then add more water if it is too stiff, or more lemon juice if it needs more acidity. Blend for another minute until really smooth. Cover and refrigerate if not serving straight away. Important: serve at room temperature.

For the pumpkin:

  • 30 ml butter
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • about 2 cups cubed fresh butternut
  • juice of an orange
  • 60 ml soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt to taste

Place the butter and oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add pumpkin and fry for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the orange juice, sugar, cinnamon & salt and stir. Lower heat to a very slow simmer, then cover with a lid. Cook for about 15 minutes, shaking the pot gently now and then to prevent sticking. Cook until the pumpkin is tender and the sugar starts to gently caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside.

For serving:

  • a handful parsley, chopped
  • a handful almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
  • grated lemon rind (optional)

Place around 1/3 hummus on two plates and use the back of a spoon to create a swirled “bed”. Place the juicy shreds of warm shank on top, as well as some of the roasted onions and pan juices. Top with a few cubes of pumpkin, chopped parsley and nuts. Serve immediately.

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Butterflied leg of lamb with chimichurri, feta & rosmarino

7 Jul

Folds of thin roasted lamb on a bed of rosmarino, chimichurri, feta and baby spinach. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

These are some of the flavours and textures that I love most: silky rosmarino (orzo) pasta cooked to al dente perfection and coated lightly in the finest olive oil, creamy salt feta, punchy zesty chimichurri and delicately roasted boneless leg of lamb, thinly sliced into beautiful folds. Top with a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves and you can serve this warm (winter) or room temperature (summer) – it’s fabulous during any season of year.

This is the last recipe in a collaboration series of “lighter winter recipes with lamb” with SA Lamb & Mutton – what a great opportunity to take yet another fresh look at one of South Africa’s favourite meats. I look forward to many more collaborations. See the other recipes here:

For the roasted leg of lamb: (serves 4-6)

  • 1,5-2 kg leg of lamb, bone out (ask your butcher to cut it out, or use a small sharp knife to remove it)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Place the meat in a large roasting tray. Drizzle all over with olive oil and lemon juice, then season generously with salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes without covering, then turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar for the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven – the inside of the lamb should still be slightly pink, but not bloody. Transfer to a large cutting board and use a large sharp knife to carve into thin slices. Return the slices to the roasting pan to rest in the juices if not serving immediately. Note: If you prefer your meat more cooked, leave it in the oven for a little longer.

For the chimichurri:

  • 1 punnet (20 g) fresh coriander
  • 1 punnet (20 g) fresh parsley
  • 1 red chilli, stalk removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 45 ml red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

While the meat is roasting, make the chimichurri. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to create a paste that is loose enough to drizzle over the meat. Add more olive oil if ncessary, and adjust salt levels to your taste. Cover until ready to use. Remember, this should be very punchy, as it will be the “seasoning/sauce” for the meat and the pasta. (Note: If made ahead, it should be refrigerated until ready to use. Use at room temperature.)

For assembly:

  • 500 g rosmarino/orzo (flat, rice shaped pasta)
  • 30-45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • a generous handful baby spinach leaves
  • about 200 g feta, roughly crumbled
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh lemon wedges, to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil, then cook the rosmarino for about 7 minutes until al dente. Drain and transfer back to the pot, drizzling with olive oil. Add 3 tablespoons of chimichurri and stir through. Add the baby spinach and give it a light stir. Transfer to a large serving plate. Top with the slices of lamb, crumbled feta and drizzle with more chimichurri. Top with ground black pepper and add a few fresh lemon wedges on the side. Serve warm or at room temperature. (If making ahead, only add the baby spinach when the pasta has cooled.)

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Lamb meatballs in smoky tomato sauce

28 Jun

Baked lamb meatballs in a smoky tomato sauce with parmesan shavings and freshly cooked tagliatelle. Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe.

 

After the winter solstice has come and gone a few days ago, we can safely say that we’re smack bam in the middle of the coldest season in the Cape. Most of us are looking for something hearty to cook for dinner, so why not try these incredibly flavourful lamb meatballs in tomato sauce. They are easy to cook and perfect for any day of the week, served with your choice of pasta.

If you don’t see any lamb or mutton mince on the shelf at your local butchery, just ask for it. Most butchers are more than happy to grind a chunk of boneless leg (or perhaps a boneless shoulder) into beautifully pink lamb/mutton mince. Leg mince is relatively low in fat compared to chops and makes excellent, juicy meatballs. I don’t add any breadcrumbs to my meatballs because I love the flavour and texture of the meat as it is, but if you want to stretch it a little and have an even softer texture result, add a cup or two of soft white breadcrumbs (process 2-3 slices in a food processor).

Thank you SA Lamb & Mutton for another opportunity to collaborate! Check out more wintery lamb dishes that’s on the lighter side of winter entertaining: Pulled lamb pitas with tomato salad & tzatziki, tabbouleh bowl with shredded lamb, lamb steak salad with figs & courgettes, lamb ramen with star anise, ginger & chilli, Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

For the tomato sauce:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely grated or chopped
  • 2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, pureed
  • 10 ml sugar
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10 ml smoked paprika

For the meatballs:

  • 700-800 g lamb mince
  • 1 red or white onion, coarsely grated
  • 5 ml dried oregano
  • 10 ml smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ml Dijon mustard
  • 15 ml olive oil, for greasing

To serve:

  • 500 g dried pasta, cooked al dente (tagliatelle/spaghetti etc.)
  • shaved or grated parmesan cheese (or grana padano or pecorino)

Method:

  1. Make the sauce: heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then fry the garlic over medium heat for just a minute. Add the pureed canned tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and bring so a simmer. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes while you make the meatballs.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  3. Make the meatballs: in a mixing bowl, add the mince, onion, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and Dijon. Use a fork to mix it well (or use clean hands). Shape into balls about the size of golf balls. Pour a little oil into a large (30 cm round) oven proof dish and use your hands or a brush to cover the base with oil all over. Arrange the rolled meatballs in the dish, then pour the sauce all over the meatballs. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minute or until brown on top and fully cooked.
  4. Serve with freshly cooked pasta and shaved parmesan.
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Pulled lamb pitas with tomato salad & tzatziki

15 May

Juicy tender pulled lamb on freshly toasted pitas with double cream tzatziki and tomato salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Once you’ve tasted a proper Greek-style souvlaki, few things can beat this meaty “sandwich”: slightly sticky pieces of tender, slow roasted lamb on a toasted pita with fresh tomato and red onion, slathered with double cream tzatziki. It’s a slice of heaven.

With pulled lamb, there’s only one way to do it – slowly. Covering your leg of lamb in baking paper and two layers of foil means that the meat steams while roasting, resulting in a really tender roast that literally falls apart. I roast it overnight at 120C for 8 hours, but you can also do it even slower at 100C for 12 hours.

With pitas, there are two ways of doing it: stuffing them, or using them as a foldover. I prefer the foldover, because it tends to hold better and not break apart. You’ll be surprised to see that naan bread also works wonderfully as foldovers, because of their elongated shapes. Use whatever you prefer!

Note: Use the leftover pulled lamb to make lamb ramen or tabbouleh bowls with lamb – great for lunch/dinner the next day.

Ingredients: (serves at least 6)

For the pulled leg of lamb:

  • 1,8 – 2 kg leg of lamb (bone-in)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml dried oregano
  • 10 ml chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 250 ml dry white wine

For the tzatziki:

  • 500 ml double cream yoghurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed and roughly grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • a small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato salad:

  • about 400-500 g ripe small rosa tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • a handful fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • a handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 10 ml red wine vinegar
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

To assemble:

  • 6-12 round pita breads (or foldovers, or naan breads), heated or toasted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 120 C. In a medium size roasting tray, place the leg of lamb then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oreganum, rosemary, salt & pepper. Place the onion quarters and garlic around the sides, then add the white wine. Cover with a layer of baking paper, tucking it in around the sides of the meat, then cover the pan with 2 layers of foil. Roast for 8 hours until the meat falls from the bone. Use two forks to pull the meat apart and let it lie in the cooking juices, removing the large bones. Set aside.
  2. While the meat is roasting, prepare the tzatziki: Add the yoghurt to a medium mixing bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumber to get rid of the excess water, then add the shreds to the yoghurt along with garlic and mint. Season with salt & pepper, add the olive oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. For the salad: make just before serving – toss all the ingredients together and set aside (don’t make ahead, or it will draw a lot of water).
  4. To assemble: plate freshly toasted pita breads with a dollop of tzatziki, some shredded warm lamb and some tomato salad on top – it’s a nice idea to let your guests each plate/assemble their own. Fold over and enjoy.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Tabbouleh bowl with shredded lamb

15 May

A fresh, crunchy bowl of bulgur wheat with cucumber, tomatoes and fresh herbs, topped with soft shredded lamb.

 

If you haven’t cooked with bulgur wheat before, you’ll be amazed that it only needs 20-30 min soaking (no boiling). You can’t mess it up! Apart from that, it’s a great source of plant-based protein and very high in fibre. With the addition of herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and cucumber, this classic Eastern Mediterranean favourite is the perfect “bed” for some juicy shreds of lamb.

Again, this dish is a great way to reuse your leftover pulled lamb or lamb roast of the weekend, turning it into a fantastic midweek office lunch or fresh, light dinner. It is bowl food at its best.

*Note: Head over to my recipe for pulled lamb pitas to cook your pulled leg of lamb from scratch, otherwise use a smaller cut of lamb like a knuckle, braised in stock & vegetables for 2-3 hours until it falls from the bone. Pan-fried or flame grilled lamb steak or chops will also do: just slice into thin slivers after frying, add a little stock to the pan and reduce for a little saucy goodness to pour over the slivers.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 cups bulgur
  • 1,5 cups boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cups baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1,5 cups cucumber, seeded & cubed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups cooked shredded lamb, with some of the cooking liquids (if using leftovers, or see *note above for more info)

Method:

  1. Place bulgar and boiling water in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand for 20-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, mint, spring onions, tomatoes, and cucumber and mix well. Season generously with salt & pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. If you are using leftover pulled lamb, place 3 cups of shreds in a small saucepan along with about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid (or mutton stock with a pinch of salt). Heat to a simmer and reduce until the liquids have almost evaporated.
  4. Plate the tabbouleh into bowls (best served at room temperature), then place the hot lamb shreds on top. Serve at once with lemon wedges on the side.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Lamb steak salad with figs, rocket, grilled courgettes and yoghurt dill dressing

15 May

Pink slivers of lamb steak with figs and grilled courgettes on a bed of rocket, drizzled with a yoghurt dill sauce. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

There’s certainly more than one way to enjoy a good steak – and it doesn’t have to include potato chips and heavy sauces. Whether it’s Winter or Summer, a scrumptious lamb steak salad is such an enticing way of serving perfectly grilled pink meat on a beautiful platter.

Substitute the ingredients with whatever’s seasonal and to your liking – tomatoes, aubergines, mushrooms – the variations are endless. The yoghurt sauce is packed with herbs and has an extra tang thanks to fresh lemon juice and some Dijon mustard – a match made in heaven with the rich lamb flavours.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a light meal)

  • 4-6 courgettes, thinly sliced into long ribbons
  • 600-800 g lamb steaks (or boneless leg of lamb, cut into thick steaks)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • a bunch fresh rocket leaves
  • 4-6 large ripe figs, quartered
  • for the dressing:
    • 3/4 cup double cream yoghurt
    • a few sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
    • 15-30 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard
    • 15-30 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Using a griddle pan, grill the courgette ribbons over a very high heat (without any oil) until the ribbons have charred marks on each side (can also be done over a fire). Set aside.
  2. Place the steaks on a plate, drizzle with oil and season well with salt & pepper. Grill the meat in the same hot pan for about 3 minutes a side (depending on the thickness of your steaks). Set aside to rest while you assemble the rest of the salad.
  3. On a large platter or on individual plates, arrange the rocket leaves, grilled courgette ribbons and sliced figs. Slice the lamb steaks into thin slivers, then arrange on top and season lightly with salt & pepper.
  4. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together, then drizzle over the top. Serve with more of the dressing on the side, along with fresh lemon wedges and more olive oil.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Lamb ramen with star anise, ginger and chilli

14 May

Slivers of lamb on a bed of noodles in a fragrant lamb broth. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ramen has made a huge splash over the past few years in the Western world, although it’s been a staple for in the East for ages. The stuff that we know as “two-minute noodles” turned out to be much more posh that we could have ever imagined! Served right, it’s light yet incredibly flavourful and packed with umami because of a magnificent meat broth, layered with deep flavours and exotic spices.

The good news is that it can be made with major shortcuts, and it’s also the perfect way to enjoy leftovers from your Sunday roast. These days you’ll find excellent lamb & mutton fonds (and some pretty decent stock cubes) in most supermarkets, which means you don’t have to start from scratch with a homemade stock. Add a few key aromatics like star anise, ginger, garlic, chilli, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce, and you’re pretty much already there. Top with fresh bean sprouts, chopped spring onions and a few slices of roast lamb (or pan fried lamb steaks) and you’re ready to rock your ramen.

I made the ramen in the photo with homemade lamb stock (using roasted lamb bones, onion, carrots, celery, black peppercorns, bay leaf, and water). Whether homemade or store bought – use whatever you prefer and have time for.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1,25 liters good quality lamb stock/broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled
  • 1 star anise
  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 1 chilli, halved and seeds removed (plus more for serving, optionally)
  • 3-4 large shiitake mushrooms (or other exotic mushrooms, like shimeji), sliced
  • 4 x 70g packets ramen noodles (noodles only, not spice sachets)
  • about 2 cups leftover roasted lamb, shredded, warmed (or about 300 g lamb steak, pan-fried and finely sliced)
  • one bunch spring onions, sliced, white part only
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • a handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to serve

Method:

  1. Place the stock/broth in a medium size pot with the garlic, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, halved chilli and sliced mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from the heat and let it stand while you prepare the noodles.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until just tender. Drain and transfer to 4 bowls.
  3. Strain the broth through a sieve, then top each bowl of noodles with warmed lamb, hot broth, spring onions, sprouts, more chilli (optional), and fresh coriander. Serve at once.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle

14 May

One of my favourite recipes this winter: a brothy white bean soup made with lamb knuckle and topped with salsa verde. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Although many of us know and love traditional South African bean soup made with red speckled beans, there’s another variety that you absolutely have to try. It is made with small white haricot beans (almost like Italian canellini beans, which are not very common in SA in its dried form). These beans are very smooth in texture and they tend to not fall apart as easily as their speckled cousins, resulting in a non-stodgy end result. This is a slightly thickened brothy soup with chunks of deliciously tender meat and beautiful, small, silky beans. Made with chicken stock instead of mutton or beef stock, the soup is also lighter in colour than most bean soups. A dollop of punchy green salsa verde adds just the right lift to this meal.

A single lamb knuckle, sliced by your butcher, is enough to add the meatiness that this soup needs. It’s an economical way to serve a stylish soup in a fresh way this Winter. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • about 600 g lamb knuckle, sliced horizontally by your butcher
  • 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 liters chicken stock
  • 500 g small white beans (haricot)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for the salsa verde:
    • a handful each parsley, basil & mint
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 teaspoons capers
    • 15-30 ml lemon juice
    • 45-60 ml olive oil
    • a pinch of salt
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard

Method:

  1. Heat the oil on high heat in a large wide pot (at least 6 liters capacity), then fry lamb knuckle in batches until browned on both sides (cut larger chunks of meat in half). Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then turn down heat to  medium.
  2. Fry the onion, celery & carrot until soft, stirring often (add a little more oil if needed). Add the garlic & rosemary (add the sprigs whole, you’ll remove the woody stems later) and fry for another minute.
  3. The bottom of the pot should be coated with sticky brown bits by now. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze. Add the fried meat with all the juices back into the pot, then top with stock. Add the beans and stir. Note: Don’t add any salt until tright at he end, otherwise the beans won’t become tender.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring now and then, then turn heat down to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 2,5-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the beans are really tender.
  5. Season generously with salt & pepper and remove from the heat to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the salsa verde, chop all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  7. Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of salsa verde (and some crusty bread for dipping, optionally).

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Spicy lamb & chickpea stew

14 May

Naturally gluten-free, this fragrant and spicy lamb stew is easy to make, hearty, and perfect for Autumn & Winter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

This easy North African-style lamb & chickpea stew is heartier than a soup, yet it doesn’t need to be served with any added starch. It is high in protein, relatively low in fat and naturally gluten-free.

I love the fact that it can be made with a few pantry staples like canned tomatoes and chickpeas, stretching a relatively small amount of meat to serve a crowd. Top it generously with fresh herbs like coriander, mint or parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Perfect Autumn fare!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • about 800 g boneless lamb/mutton, cubed 2x2cm (leg works well, but any boneless meat will work)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) smoked paprika
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) harissa dried spice blend (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sugar
  • 500 ml lamb/mutton stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • finely grated zest (and 15 ml juice, reserved) of a fresh lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a generous handful fresh coriander/mint/parsley, to serve

Method:

  1. In a large heavy based pot with lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft. Turn up the heat and add the meat cubes, browning on all sides but not cooking through.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, harissa, cinnamon stick and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sugar, stock, tomatoes, chickpeas and lemon zest and bring to a simmer. Turn down heat to very low, then simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring now and then to check that the bottom is not burning.
  4. Season generously with salt & pepper, add the lemon juice and stir in half of the fresh herbs. Remove from the heat. Serve in bowls with more fresh herbs.

Note: This stew can be made a day or two ahead and reheated – it also freezes well. Leg meat should take less time to get tender, but any cut will eventually get really soft.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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