Spring greens and shredded lamb shoulder
Just like the sunlight streaming through my windows, the fresh flush of spring greens are streaming into greengrocers and farmers’ markets across the land. Now is the start of the glorious run of asparagus, peas, both shelling and in pods, and broad beans. It always seems such a magical transition from the earthy colours of winter food. Here are the brightest of bright greens adorning our plates, vanquishing the drabness of winter. But spring sunshine can be fleeting. It’s a season in the southern states that can swing wildly from perfect warm, still days, to high winds, to flurries of snow.
It’s due to this unpredictable weather that I have paired these delightful green vegetables with some spring lamb shoulder. Traditionally a braising cut, the meat is prepared in a heavily spiced marinade and then slow-roasted in its own juices. As the meat is young and sweet, it responds very well to a slow, covered roasting. It is hearty enough if the weather turns cold but sweet and giving enough to be served as a warm salad if the weather is warm. The crushed broad beans are like a coarse dip and, paired with the sheep’s milk yoghurt, are delicious if served with some grilled bread. It’s a little like a bright spring variation of a souvlaki.
For those who don’t eat meat, this dish would be delightful with some lovely crunchy falafel, with copious amounts of new-season coriander, parsley and mint in the mix. It is the most glorious season of fresh green shoots that always spells hope and promise for tomorrow.
- 1kg trimmed lamb shoulder or neck, boned
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch chilli flakes
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- ½ bunch coriander, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup sheep’s milk yoghurt
- 1kg broad beans
- 500g asparagus
- 100g sugar snap peas
- 250g peas
- extra virgin olive oil
- small bunch mint
- small bunch dill
- ½ cup sheep’s milk yoghurt
- Remove the meat from the fridge at least four hours before cooking and trim any excess fat.
- Combine all the spices, herbs and seasoning with the fresh coriander, garlic, lemon, olive oil and yoghurt in a bowl. Mix together and then rub all over the lamb. Allow to marinate for at least four hours in the fridge. Overnight is also fine.
- Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
- Place the lamb, skin-side up, in a small baking dish with all the marinade, cover with foil and roast for two hours. Remove the foil and roast for another half-hour until the meat is soft and the fat cap a little crunchy and golden.
- Remove from the oven and rest while you prepare the vegetables.
- Pod the broad beans. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the broad beans and bring back to the boil. Drain immediately and cool under running water. Peel the broad beans.
- Bring a larger saucepan of water to the boil. Snap the ends off the asparagus and cut on the diagonal if thick spears, or leave thin spears as they are. Pod peas and top and tail sugar snap peas. Cook the asparagus, peas and sugar snap peas lightly. Drain and keep warm. While the other vegetables are cooking, use a mortar and pestle to crush the broad beans with a little salt and a good slosh of olive oil.
- Divide the smashed broad beans across six plates, add a spoonful of yoghurt and a handful of the green vegetables. Shred the meat and divide equally. Garnish with sprigs of mint and dill and a little extra yoghurt.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 18, 2021 as "Spring tidings".
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