You guys, I can't even believe March is almost over--I have been slogging through a crazy project at work that is finally coming to an end so I feel like I didn't even get to experience March at all! Luckily, the project will wrap just in time for April and spring's true arrival in Michigan.
Because I've been so swamped, I haven't had much time to putter in the kitchen and can't wait to dive back in. I have so many things I want to try. But today I want to share one of my favorite ways to cook lamb--pan fried with tons of veggies and served over a bed of lemony Israeli couscous. It's basically a dream team combination, and perfect for a smaller Easter dinner (especially if you don't want to buy a whole ham or leg o' lamb).
Oh, how I adore fresh produce! Spring makes me giddy for tons of reasons (the one good thing about long, heinous winters is how seriously rapturous spring feels), especially the first fresh spears of asparagus. You can pretty much use any veggie in this dish--it's a perfect kitchen sink/night before trash day meal--so I threw some grape tomatoes, a lone zucchini, and a handful of mushrooms in.
Do you cook lamb very much? Before moving to Michigan, I never did. But we live near an abundance of Middle Eastern markets so it's so much easier to come by. And while I still get a little Lisa Simpson-y when I eat it, I also have Ron Swanson carnivorous tendencies. Plus, lamb is just So Good.
Especially if you keep things simple--kosher salt, pepper, lemon zest, and your favorite herbs. Obviously rosemary and thyme are great contenders but I was craving fresh mint so that's what these steaks got.
And let's not even get started on my love affair with all things couscous. When we visited Morocco, we ate couscous for pretty much every meal and it was always amazing, especially heaped with freshly grilled veggies. I love how ridiculously fast couscous cooks.
While any grain will go well with lamb steaks, I love using Israeli couscous, which has larger pearls that sop up flavors in a crazy good way. Boil the couscous with chicken stock and fold in your favorite nuts and cheese (walnuts and feta here), then douse all that with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and you have a very fine vegetarian meal in front of you.
But if you want to have that lovely couscous cozy up to a delicious lamb steak, I would totally understand. Either way, you'll definitely want to heap that couscous with all those gorgeous vegetables.
I love pan frying all steaks because they cook quickly, get a deliciously browned crust, and you can cook it as rare or well-done as you like!
Oh., and if you've never cooked steaks on the stove before, let me point you to the most comprehensive and accurate Pan Fried Steak guide courtesy the brilliant J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats. Reading this article dispelled a lot of steak-cooking myths (particularly concerning flipping) and also produced the juiciest steaks with the most divine crust on earth. You will not be sorry.
I can't wait to get back into the kitchen this weekend to try out some of the fun spring recipes that have been spinning around my head! Wishing you the loveliest of weekends!
Lamb Leg Steaks with Lemon, Walnut, and Feta Israeli Couscous
For the lamb steaks and vegetables
2 (1-inch) lamb leg steaks
olive oil, for brushing on steaks
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
2-3 mint leaves, sliced thinly
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, for sauteing veggies
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Brush lamb steaks with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and mint. Let marinate on a plate at room temperature for at least one hour before pan frying. After the lamb is done marinating, put olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and saute for 5-7 minutes, until veggies are soft. Remove to a plate.
Sear lamb steaks for 2 minutes per side (until golden brown). Lower heat to medium and cover pan. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, depending on how you like your meat. 5 minutes will give you somewhere in the ballpark of medium-rare. Transfer lamb to a plate and let steaks rest for 10 minutes before serving.
For the Lemon, Walnut, and Feta Israeli Couscous
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 cups chicken stock
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup feta
1 tablespoon finely minced mint leaves
While steaks rest, prepare the couscous by bringing chicken stock to a boil. Add couscous and cover for 5 minutes until it absorbs the water. Fluff with a fork and fold lemon zest, lemon juice, walnuts, feta, and mint leaves.
Serve lamb steaks on a bed of couscous and vegetables and sprinkle with additional walnuts and mint leaves if you would like.