Spicy Lamb and Lentils

Meaty lamb, earthy lentils and a touch of heat combine for an easy meal that’s fragrant and full of flavor. It’s also ready in just a few minutes, largely with pantry and fridge staples (other than the garnish). I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit. But, as usual, I made a few changes. The idea of crispy lamb didn’t really appeal to me, so I just browned it in the pan. And, partly in the interest of speed, and partly due to a moment of distraction, I tossed the lentils in without removing the lamb first. Oops. But, it was fine. I also skipped the cilantro and topped it with garlic shoots instead (since I have them growing in my windowsill).

Lentils store well and are packed with protein too. They pair well with lamb, as they complement its rich, meaty flavor.

If you don’t have cooked lentils, they are easy to make. Unlike beans, they require no soaking. The formula is 3 parts water to one part lentils. Add the lentils and water to a pot. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a low simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. And the volume roughly doubles from dry to cooked. So, to get 1/3 cup cooked lentils, you’ll need about 3 T of dry lentils and 1/2 C of water. Or keep it simple and make more. The recipe is good with, or without the lamb, so you can have it again meatless. I’ve also added additional lentil recipes at the end of the post.




Spicy Lamb and Lentils Substitutions and Variations

  • Try red lentils instead; they take a 3:1 ratio and the split ones cook in about five minutes (plus they look pretty)
  • Not a fan of lamb? Make it meatless instead
  • If you like cilantro, garnish the lamb with it, if not try garlic scapes or scallions instead

More Lentil Recipes

easy lentils and rice recipeEasy Lentils and Rice Recipe

Now that you’ve got lentils, here’s an easy recipe for them. It’s budget-friendly and uses ingredients that are either shelf-stable or long-lasting.

 

red lentil carrot soupRed Lentil Carrot Soup

Warm and spicy with cumin, garam masala, and fresh ginger. Perfect for chilly not quite spring days. You can also make this with brown lentils (just cook it longer).

ham and lentil soupEasy Ham and Lentil Soup for One Person

Comforting, warm, and easy to make too. It only requires a single pot too. Make extra and freeze it in individual portions for more meals another day.

 




Lamb Kofta Meatballs

I had started out one night thinking I’d make lamb and spinach meatballs, but I found I was low on eggs, and wanted to use what I had for something else. So I switched to lamb kofta meatballs mid-stream! Sometimes, I pivot in the middle!

The meatballs are flavored with toasted nuts, warm spicy cumin and cinnamon, as well as sweet, minty green cardamom. All that makes them a feast both for the mouth and the eyes. Look how colorful they are!

Plus, they require no eggs and no breadcrumbs. I wasn’t entirely sure if they would stay together without it, but they did. So it’s a great way to have meatballs if you can’t have eggs. And, since there’s no bread crumbs, they’re also gluten-free.

I’ve adapted this from once upon a chef‘s recipe for Middle Eastern lamb kofta meatballs , and reduced the quantities. I did make a few other changes. One, I swapped cilantro for spinach (don’t like cilantro!). Two, my quarter of a bell pepper was questionable, so I used chopped carrot instead.  And lastly, I didn’t have the mixed nuts, only ground almonds, so I used that. More pivoting!

That also saved me the step of grinding up the nuts.  You can use almonds, or go with a mixture of walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts as she did in the original recipe.

That’s the thing about cooking. Sometimes you have to be able to think on your feet, and figure out what to do when something doesn’t go quite the way that you initially planned.

 

More Lamb Recipes

spinach lamb meatballsSpinach Lamb Meatballs

Rich with lamb, earthy spinach, tangy vinegar, and spicy/warm cumin, these meatballs are ready in minutes. But, they taste like you spent hours making them.

 

Lmab keema with potatoes and broccoliLamb Keema with Potatoes and Broccoli

Flavored with ginger, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric, this dish is a sort of Pakistani shepherd’s pie. It’s savory, not hot or strong. Make it with lamb or beef if you prefer. And only needs one pot!

turkish lamb burgerTurkish Lamb Burgers

Rich lamb, sharp garlic, and salty feta balanced by cool cucumber and mint, topped with yogurt sauce. Flavorful, filling, and just a wee bit messy. But soooo good. Even better if you can refrigerate the mixture for a few hours.

Spinach Lamb Meatballs

Sometimes you get recipes from a cookbook, or online, or from a friend. This recipe for spinach lamb meatballs started in a cookbook in NY, bounced to the US West coast, and then back again to NY. It was a cross-country collaboration!

Here’s what happened.  A friend had some ground lamb and was looking for dinner ideas.  I mentioned a spinach lamb meatball recipe I had and gave her the ingredients.

She wanted to serve her meatballs with marinara sauce, so I suggested she might want to change it around a bit (the original recipe called for nutmeg, which wasn’t going to work with marinara sauce). Also, while the recipe I had fit her requirements, it was, honestly, a bit bland, and needed more punch.

She added her own spin, then told me what she did. I made a few more changes, and ended up with this recipe.

Red wine vinegar stands up to the lamb’s assertive flavor, while cumin adds a warm, nutty, slightly spicy bite. The spinach adds color, and those all important vitamins and iron too.

It’s pretty easy to put together too. First, you sweat the onions (cook them over low heat for a few minutes, until they become transparent). Then wash and dry the spinach (this is important, otherwise the meatballs will be too moist and won’t hold together). The rest is simply measuring, mixing, and rolling.




Spinach Lamb Meatballs Substitutions and Variations

  • try red wine (say a Pinot Noir) instead of the vinegar
  • add an extra flavor punch and spice with some harissa
  • use ground beef instead of lamb
  • skip the cumin and have the meatballs with marinara sauce
  • serve the meatballs with Greek yogurt and cucumber

More Lamb Recipes

turkish lamb burgerTurkish Lamb Burgers

Rich, messy, and absolutely lip-smackingly good. These burgers are stuffed with feta and garlic, then topped with a tangy, refreshing yogurt cucumber sauce.

 

lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetablesLamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables

Bring a hint of Morocco to your kitchen without traveling.  Flavored with cinnamon, cumin, carrots, and chili, this dish is warm, spicy, and only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

lamb kofta meatballsLamb Kofta Meatballs

A feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, these meatballs are flavored with toasted nuts, sweet/minty cardamom, and earthy spinach. No eggs needed and no breadcrumbs.

 

 




Lamb Keema with Potatoes and Broccoli

I usually plan my meals, not precisely, but generally write down six or seven entrees and build from there. But, I had some ground lamb in the freezer and didn’t quite know what to do with it. My first thought was shepherd’s pie.  But that requires first making mashed potatoes and then making the meat mixture. Too much work.  Then I dug into my bookmarks and found a recipe for keema (or kima).  She says it’s her most requested recipe! Keema is, roughly speaking, Pakistani shepherd’s pie (or maybe cottage pie, since the original is made with beef). It’s got ground meat, potatoes, and some veggies.  And, best of all it only requires one pot!  That’s my kind of cooking.

I’ve seen this spelled keema, and kima or called keema aloo (for the potatoes).  However you spell it, you get a savory, not too spicy all-in-one pot meal. A meal which is ready in about half an hour too.

I used ground lamb, but ground beef is fine if that’s what you have.  You could probably even make it with ground turkey if you wanted to. Chicken would probably be a bit bland.

Don’t be put off by the ingredients list. It’s mostly just adding small amounts of spices into the pan. You don’t even really have to measure.  Just shake the jars a couple of times (if you have the kind with the small holes in the lids) or grab a pinch.

This is generally made with peas, but I didn’t have any so I tossed in some frozen broccoli instead. You could use the peas or whatever other veggies you have such as: cauliflower, cabbage, or peppers. I used Yukon gold potatoes, but regular russet potatoes will work too. You could even substitute sweet potatoes if you like.

As written, this recipe is relatively mild. If you want more heat, increase the curry, and/or add some fresh hot peppers or red pepper flakes.

If you want to go all out with the starch, you can serve this with rice or naan.  I just made a side salad (trying to get my veggies in!).




 

Lamb Keema with Potatoes and Broccoli Substitutions and Variations

  • Try a different kind of protein, such as beef or ground turkey
  • Use peas instead of broccoli
  • Add some coconut
  • Spice it up with hot peppers, more curry, or fresh ginger instead of ground
  • Add some yogurt

More Lamb Recipes

turkish lamb burgerTurkish Lamb Burgers

Bring out the napkins for this. It’s messy. Essentially, a compound burger, except with salty feta, Mediterranean spices, and a cool as a cucumber yogurt sauce.

 

moroccan lamb stewMoroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

Flavored with cinnamon, a touch of ginger, raisins, almonds, and lamb.  It’s rich, sweet, and warm, not spicy or hot. Since the lamb is cooked slowly,  it practically melts in your mouth. Great for a slow cooker, if you have one.

 

greek lamb breastGreek Lamb Breast

Throw a few ingredients together, marinate, and then slow cook this for a couple of hours. It’s rich, garlicky, and lemony: classic Greek flavors. And, there’s very little prep.

 




Turkish Lamb Burgers

These Turkish lamb burgers are flavorful, filling, and just a little bit messy, so keep plenty of napkins handy. It’s worth the mess though. The burgers are rich from lamb, slightly salty from the feta and spicy/warm from cumin and garlic. Adding mint to both the burgers and the yogurt cucumber sauce adds a fresh, cool flavor to balance out the spices.

I adapted this recipe from one I found online so long ago I can’t remember where I found it. It does require a bit of pre-planning, since the meat mixture has to sit for a while for the flavors to blend. So, it’s probably best for a weekend, rather than a Tuesday dinner. However, once that’s done, the rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly. And, it’s practically a meal all by itself.

Make the meat mixture for the burgers first, let it sit overnight or a few hours in the fridge, and then make the cucumber yogurt sauce while the burgers are cooking.

I did make this for two servings, rather than one, because half an egg isn’t so bad, but a quarter of an egg is ridiculous, even for me. 

How to get half an egg, you ask? What you do is break the egg, beat it lightly, and then pour half of it out into a separate container.  You should end up with about 3  1/4 T of egg total.  Use half that for the burgers, or approximately 1 2/3 T (5 teaspoons). Save the rest of the egg to make a cherry tomato basil frittata or a spinach and feta omelette in a day or two.  Don’t worry if it’s not exact, we’re not baking!

I broiled the burgers in my toaster oven, and put the pita on top for a minute or so to warm it up.  If you have a grill, you could use that instead.

Serve the burgers in pita bread topped with the yogurt dill sauce, then add garnishes to suit your taste.




Turkish Lamb Burgers Substitutions and Variations

  • Garnish with some extra crumbled feta cheese
  • Top with thinly sliced red onions
  • Add sliced tomatoes and extra chopped cucumber on top of your lamb burger
  • Make the burgers with half lamb and half ground turkey (use dark meat if you can find it); or if you don’t like lamb, just use the turkey




 

More Lamb and Yogurt Recipes

Lmab keema with potatoes and broccoliLamb Keema with Potatoes and Broccoli

Familiar with shepherd’s pie? Think that, but gone to Pakistan and picked up a whole new set of spices, like curry, cumin, ginger, and turmeric.

 

moussaka without bechamelMoussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Recipe

No heavy sauce to make, fewer steps, but still delicious. This Turkish version is easier to make, only requires one pan, but still piles on plenty of flavor from spicy/warm cinnamon and nutmeg, the bite of garlic and onion, tender eggplant, ground lamb, and tomatoes.

lamb kofta meatballsLamb Kofta Meatballs

Flavored with toasted nuts, sweet/minty cardamom and earthy lamb. This dish is a feast for your eyes as well as your taste buds.  It’s also eggless and bread-free.

 

spinach lamb meatballsSpinach Lamb Meatballs

Rich with lamb, tangy vinegar, and earthy spinach. Red wine vinegar stands up to the lamb’s bold flavor, while cumin lends a warm, slightly spicy bite. The spinach adds color, and those all important vitamins and iron too.

Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables

I spotted this wonderful merguez sausage (spicy sausage made with lamb) while shopping online and then went looking for some ideas on what to do with it.  I found a lamb merguez tagine recipe  but I had no squash, no chickpeas and no couscous (also no tagine, but a saucepan fixed that).  Time to adapt and improvise!  I’m calling it lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables.

First I replaced the couscous with rice.  Then, instead of squash or zucchini (which I didn’t have, and didn’t think ideal with the lamb anyway) I used the rest of a white eggplant I already had at hand. I am a firm believer in using what you have whenever possible (especially with all those steps, I’m not going up and down for one can or two items)!  

The result was this delicious lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables. It only takes about 35 or 40 minutes to cook. Plus, I reduced the original three pots to only two (one for the rice and another for the lamb and veggies). I wasn’t going to clean three pots!  Not to mention, the ingredients are now in the order you use them.

If you’re not familiar with merguez sausage, it’s a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly so.  It’s flavored with chili peppers and cumin, but that’s tempered by the cinnamon, coriander, onions, and garlic, which mellow as you simmer them.  The richness of the eggplant and the sweet carrots also make an excellent foil for the spicy lamb.




Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables Substitutions and Variations

  • If you have the chickpeas, add them to the dish
  • Or substitute some lentils for the eggplant
  • Try it with couscous instead of the rice
  • Or serve it over some pasta
  • If you can’t find the merguez, you can approximate the flavor by using ground lamb, increasing the garlic, cumin, and coriander and adding some harissa or sriracha or chili garlic sauce for heat

More Lamb and Eggplant Recipes

Rosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad for One

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person




Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Hot. Cold. Then hot again. Anyone else getting whiplash from this weather? The calendar says fall, but the thermometer reads summer.  To beat the heat, try a leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach salad.  You can use leftover lamb from my Greek lamb breast recipe, or just broil a lamb chop.

This salad is a festival of tastes, textures, and colors.  You get luscious lamb topped with tender golden-brown eggplant over earthy spinach, refreshing crisp cucumbers, and sweet tomatoes.  Then the whole thing is finished with a rich garlicky lemon mayonnaise.

I’ve sauteed the eggplant in a skillet (because I didn’t want to heat up the oven), but you can grill it if you prefer, or bake it in the oven (400 degrees for about 20 minutes).  Then just add spinach and your favorite salad ingredients.

I have adapted this from a Silver Palate cookbook recipe which called for pignoli nuts and olives.  I had neither, so I filled in with cucumber and tomato. You could also put in mushrooms, sprouts, experiment with different kinds of olives, or top it with toasted nuts.  See the “substitutions” section below for more ideas.

You can either make the mayonnaise from scratch (homemade mayonnaise is divine, just remember to use it up quickly), or just dress up some store-bought mayonnaise with a bit of garlic and lemon juice.  I like to “freshen” up commercially made mayo with lemon and olive oil whenever I use it.  It tastes more like homemade that way.

Have this for a quick dinner, or make it for lunch.  I think of it as an entree salad; it works for any time you want something filling without a lot of fussing (or waiting).




Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant Spinach Salad Substitutions and Variations

 

  • Top with pignoli nuts, chopped almonds, or chopped walnuts
  • Add 1/4 C feta cheese and some mint
  • Add some sliced apples
  • Make some orzo and add that to the salad
  • Try different veggies like zucchini, bell pepper or squash

More Lamb Recipes for One Person

greek lamb breastGreek Lamb Breast Recipe

Marinate this overnight, then roast it slowly in a low oven to bring out the full flavor.

 

moroccan lamb stewMoroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

A Jewish-Moroccan recipe fit for a feast. The raisins add sweetness and complement the lamb beautifully.

 

lamb breast provencale with rosemaryOne Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe

Cooked slowly and topped with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, rosemary and bread crumbs.

 

turkish lamb burgerTurkish Lamb Burgers

Meaty, rich lamb burgers stuffed with garlic and salty feta. Served with a cucumber yogurt sauce.  Make the burgers ahead and let the ingredients blend for full flavor.

 



Greek Lamb Breast Recipe

Great for a cold weekend, this Greek lamb breast recipe requires very little active preparation time.  Just make the marinade, zip it in a bag, and let it sit.

The longer this marinates the better.  You can leave it for an hour (if you don’t have lots of time), but it’s better overnight, or all day while you do something else.

I let this sit in the fridge for two days (because I unexpectedly ate out), and it was divine.

It cooks slowly in a low oven, just enough to heat the house a bit, but not so much that you’ll overheat yourself (this is, incidentally also a great way to cook roast beef, low and slow).




The recipe is adapted slightly from a recipe I found on Epicurious.  That was for lamb chops or a leg of lamb.  I reduced that marinade recipe and substituted the NY Times’ lamb riblet slow roasting technique instead of grilling.

If you don’t have breast of lamb, you can use a lamb chop instead.  Just let it marinate, then broil the chop 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how thick it is.

Tools and Ingredients for Greek Lamb Breast Recipe


Cuisinart 12-Inch Pan with Glass Cover

This pan is shallower than most roasting pans, which means it’s easier to remove your food. The relatively small size makes it a great option for smaller portions (and smaller ovens). It’s also great for pan pizza for one (the pizza fits perfectly).

While I don’t usually like nonstick surfaces, this one has held up nicely since I bought it two years ago. I haven’t used the glass cover with the pan, but fits over my other pots and pans (so I can see what’s cooking).


Oxo Good Grips Kitchen Tongs

A good pair of tongs is invaluable when cooking.  These are easy to hold, and they lock back together for storage.  Use them to turn meat, or pick up and turn food in the oven, without burning yourself.

The ends are nylon so they won’t scratch your nonstick pan. Dishwasher safe if you have one.  I’ve had mine for eight years (!) and they’re in perfect condition. Worth every cent I paid for them.

More Lamb Recipes

lamb breast provencale with rosemaryOne Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe

About 15 minutes prep, then a slow roast in the oven yields tender, moist lamb, topped with garlicky bread crumbs.

 

leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach saladLeftover Roast Lamb, Eggplant, and Spinach Salad

A salad of earthly delights, with luscious lamb, tender eggplant, earthy spinach,  and crisp cucumbers. Served with a garlicky lemon mayonnaise.

 

spinach lamb meatballsSpinach Lamb Meatballs

A bit of serendipity and some cross-country collaboration and poof! Meatballs! Made with cumin, spinach, and just a touch of piquant vinegar to balance the flavors.

 

lamb kofta meatballsLamb Kofta Meatballs

Don’t like eggs? Or don’t have any? These meatballs hold together with no eggs, and no bread crumbs.

Flavored with toasted nuts, cumin, and sweet minty green cardamom: a feast both for your mouth and your eyes!




Moroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

The first time I made this Moroccan lamb stew I made a big pot of it for Passover. I was tired of the usual brisket and chicken for the holidays. So, mom and I made this instead.

It’s flavored with cinnamon, a touch of ginger, raisins, almonds, and lamb.  The lamb is cooked slowly, so it practically melts in your mouth.

While the full recipe is certainly worth making (and then freezing the leftovers), my freezer is tiny and too full of other food to do that right now.

So I “minified” the recipe (from The Book of Jewish Food) and made it for one instead.  Many Moroccan recipes call for somewhat exotic ingredients (if you’re a Westerner), such as sumac or ras el hanout.  This one doesn’t. It’s made entirely with ingredients that should be in any market.  And, once you start it cooking, there’s very little to do.

I have modified it slightly. She calls for honey and more water than I  have used. I left out the honey because I felt the raisins and the carrots (my own addition) were sweet enough.  I reduced the water, using just enough to soak the saffron. The lamb cooks nicely in its own fat, it doesn’t need the water.

I don’t have a slow cooker, but if you do, you could probably start your stew in the morning and have it ready when you come home from work.

Use a shoulder lamb chop with a round bone as it is easier to cut up. Shoulder cuts are also better for stews and long, slow cooking.

It’s great for a weekend dinner, washed down with some Zinfandel.




More Moroccan and Lamb Recipes

Moroccan Chicken and Bean Soup

Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

Lamb and Lentil Soup Recipe

Greek Lamb Breast Recipe

Moroccan Lamb Stew Tools and Ingredients

Spanish Saffron

Yes, it’s pricey, but it adds a unique flavor and beautiful color. Luckily, Amazon is easier (and likely less expensive and fresher) than the stuff in the supermarket.  Soak it first, then mash it with a spoon to release the flavor and color. You only need a little bit and you can use the rest for other dishes.

The Book of Jewish Food

This book is part cookbook, part history, and part travelogue.  There are recipes from places you probably never thought of as “Jewish.” The ingredients aren’t always what you’d expect either. Sure there are recipes for challah, and potato pancakes, and noodle pudding.

But there’s also stuffed zucchini, meatballs in apricot sauce, lamb with artichokes, pita bread, and phyllo pastry filled with pistachios. She gives recipes, as well as a history of the people in each part of the world she covers. It’s like going on vacation, and sometimes traveling back through time, without leaving your couch.




 

Lamb and Lentil Soup Recipe

Lamb and lentil soup is rich, hearty, and filling.  It’s a great dish for a cold winter’s day. This recipe is for one serving of soup (more on that later).

I had some lamb broth leftover from the lamb breast provencale recipe I posted a few days ago.  Since I wasn’t in a particular hurry, and it was chilly, I decided to use it up and make a single serving of lamb and lentil soup.   I’d just bought a bag of lentils, and lentils and lamb are a good combination.  Since it was an experiment, it was also a good way to test the recipe on a single serving of soup before I made a huge pot of it.

This recipe uses that lamb broth, plus lentils, diced tomatoes and thyme for lots of flavor.

It does take a while to cook, but once you get the ingredients together it’s mostly set it and forget it, so you can start it early and then go do something else while your soup simmers on the stove (and delicious smells start wafting through your home).

Serve with a chunk of crusty bread (to sop up every last drop of soup from the bottom of the the bowl).  Since this is “the single serving chef” you can be messy if you want.  Nobody will know.

I made this for one because I had one serving’s worth of broth. You can scale up the recipe, make a larger batch, and then freeze it in single serving containers (or save some for a fast lunch another day).

The other nice thing, is that while it does take a while to cook, the prep time is minimal.




Lamb and Lentil Soup Substitutions and Variations

  • If you don’t have the lamb broth, use beef broth (it won’t be lamb soup any longer, but it will still taste good)
  • Add 1/4 ground lamb to the soup (brown this as the first step in the recipe)
  • Replace the brandy with a robust red wine

More Lamb Recipes

greek lamb breastGreek Lamb Breast Recipe

Marinated in olive oil, garlic, and lemon, then slow-roasted for a deep, rich flavor.

 

moroccan lamb stewMoroccan Lamb Stew with Almonds and Raisins

Flavored with cinnamon, a touch of ginger, raisins, almonds, and lamb.  The lamb is cooked slowly, so it practically melts in your mouth. Perfect for a sweet new year.

 

lamb breast provencale with rosemaryOne Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe

Slow roasted with lots of garlic and rosemary, then topped with golden crunchy bread crumbs.  Ideal for a winter’s day.

 

leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach saladLeftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Creamy eggplant, luscious lamb, and earthy spinach all tossed together with a garlicky easy cheat aioli.