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April 10, 2013

A Little Lamb

Lamb Flatbreads with Olive Tapenade 
There's no 'sort of' when it comes to eating lamb--either you like it or you don't. For most of my life, I was in the latter camp, but after a move to San Francisco, a few long and leisurely drives due north through some eye-catching landscapes dotted with grazing sheep and too much time spent with Mr. B, I happily moved my camp to the other side.

I never grew up anywhere around people who ate lamb and in fact, the one time that we went to the Greek festival and my grandfather purchased a gyro, the rest of the family stood at a distance; my grandmother wouldn't let any of the grandchildren near him lest he offer us a bite. It's too bad, too, because even back then I had a brave little palate and I probably would have quickly taken him up on his generosity. For years afterward, I thought my grandmother was worried we'd get sick, but after moving camps, I realized she was worried we'd find out how good it was and then she'd have to cook it for Sunday dinners.

My parents are well aware of how much I like lamb, so on any holiday where it would be appropriately served, they question me to see if it's on the menu and if it is, there's always a long silence and then a soft 'tsking' sound as if I just admitted to having joined a cult.

I'm not looking to people my camp; I like my lamb leftovers far too much to make room, but I have to wonder why more people don't eat lamb. I guess it's got to be because lamb has such a wild, musky taste to it. That's because lamb are pastured and eat all sorts of wild grasses and herbs. Depending on where the lamb are raised, sometimes you can even taste a bit of rosemary in the meat.

Truth is, beef should have that wild taste, too, because cows are meant to eat grass, not grain. Grass-fed animals produce healthy meat, lower in fat and higher in vitamins and minerals than grain-fed animals. Lamb is one of the richest sources of easily digestible protein and while it does have saturated fat, 65% of the fat in lamb is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat--the stuff that's good for your heart. Lamb is also full of vitamin B12, zinc and iron and a portion is under 200 calories and contains 30 grams of protein.

Enough preaching; you should try lamb already.

I like to thinly slice the leftover meat and pile it onto warm flatbreads with olive tapenade, arugula, thinly sliced red onions, cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese. If you're not game enough to give lamb a try, at least make some olive tapenade; it's good stuff.

Olive Tapenade

4 cups pitted kalamata olives
1 12 ounce can anchovy stuffed olives, drained
4 garlic toes, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
lemon juice
olive oil
red pepper flakes
whole fresh rosemary sprigs

1. Mix garlic, 2 tablespoons of rosemary and olives in a food processor until finely chopped.
2. Add a 1/2 cup of olive oil and the squeezed lemon. Gently pulse three to four times until olive oil is mixed in, but mixture is still chunky.
3. Season to taste with red pepper flakes.
4. Spoon tapenade into a big glass jar and pour olive oil over it to fill; shove one or two rosemary sprigs into the olive mixture.
5. Store in the refrigerator.

2 comments :

  1. My PIL make lamb every Easter, but since they moved to Florida right when I married their son, we haven't spent Easter together yet.

    My husbands first wife got handed a barely cooked lamb chop her first Easter with her new family, and nearly threw up at the sight of it!

    Believe it or not, I've never even tried it - my husband loves it, so I may have to give this recipe a go!

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  2. You will love it; wait no longer. Mr. B likes to roast half a boneless leg with garlic, rosemary, olive oil and oregano, but you could also buy ground lamb and season it and make patties; grill them and serve them with the harissa and you will be one happy Biz!

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