Monday, January 26, 2009

By the Spanish Sea

There's something about the Mediterranean that makes me crave that atmosphere... maybe it's the sunlight, or the sea breeze, or the fact that while we're sitting at -10°C here in Toronto (with 10 feet of snow out back), Madrid is resting comfortably tonight at 9°C and nothing but a light misting of rain to complain about! Luckily for my grandparents, they don't have to dream much longer, since tomorrow they're boarding a plane for a nice, long trip to Spain! They also get to take a day-long jaunt to Tangiers, Morocco, and experience the open-air markets, music and perfumed air! I'd be full of jealousy if they weren't so deserving of the trip!

Since they would be away for my Grandma's birthday this February, we held a small Sunday dinner this weekend for her. Ironically, I was mostly in charge of planning the menu, regardless of the fact that since it was full of meat, wheat and olive oil - three things I most definitely cannot stomach - I wouldn't be partaking in the feast. Thank God for my mom's wonderful taste buds... she took my recipes and ran with them to create a beautiful meal that smelled just like a Greek gourmet festival!

This leg of lamb was cooked off the bone, unlike traditional methods, but the potential loss in flavour is more than made up for with a black olive and fresh oregano rub inside and out. The lemon cuts through any "gaminess", and if you get a chance to let it sit for an hour or two... all the better!

Mediterranean Leg of Lamb
Serves 6
4lb boneless leg of lamb
2 bunches fresh oregano, picked and chopped roughly
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Combine oregano, garlic, lemon zest, olives and olive oil in a food processor to form a paste.
  2. Season lamb generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Rub inside and outside of lamb with paste, roll leg up and truss with butcher string.
  4. Preheat oven to 375. Pat any excess olive oil off the lamb leg.
  5. Grill the lamb leg until all sides have developed a rich, dark brown crust.
  6. Roast, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 ½ hours, or until thermometer inserted in thickest part of leg registers 150. Allow the lamb to rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 512.5
Total Fat: 26.6 g
Cholesterol: 193.4 mg
Sodium: 332.1 mg
Total Carbs: 2.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 62.2 g

For a side dish, I mixed up an exotic blend of flavours to compliment the otherwise bland flavour profile of whole-wheat couscous. I used Spanish (of course!) blood oranges and saffron, added a Moroccan touch of cumin and cloves and spiked the whole thing with Canadian dried cranberries for a sweet and fruity pilaf my mom folded into steamed veggies and everyone enjoyed!

I'm passing this mini pasta dish off to Presto Pasta Nights this week, hosted by Erin at The Skinny Gourmet and created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast!

Moroccan – Inspired Jewelled Couscous
Serves 6
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon fresh-grated ginger
pinch ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground saffron
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Juice and grated zest of one orange
1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
½ cup dried cranberries
1 ½ cups whole wheat couscous
  1. Bring cumin, ginger, cloves, saffron, salt, pepper, orange zest and juice and vegetable broth to a boil.
  2. Add the dried cranberries, reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Return the mixture to a boil, stir in the couscous and remove from heat.
  4. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 189.1
Total Fat: 1.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 276.6 mg
Total Carbs: 39.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.8 g
Protein: 5.8 g

Alas, the part of the menu I didn't get to take part in was the dessert... my element! Ah, well, next time!

3 comments :

Ruth Daniels said...

What a wonderful meal - it has me drooling and it's only 7 AM! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Mrs. L said...

I really like lamb and I'm lucky my husband does too, as most folks in our family don't. This sounds really good for a nice winter meal (even though the weather is pretty dang decent here in CA).

Bellini Valli said...

Lucky, lucky grandparents. If I can't be in Greece or Spain we can live the dream through excellent Mediterranean flavours.