What a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend we had here. In fact, it’s just been getting increasingly gorgeous! I can’t get enough of it! I know that it’s been over a week since Memorial Day weekend, but I’ve been so busy launching my new company. This recipe has sorrowfully been floating around, waiting to be written about. The pictures longingly waiting to be processed, cropped, and uploaded. Because it’s just that wonderful. I’ve posted lamb and spiced yogurt before and I will keep doing it. They’re both utterly magical components that are just that much more magical when eaten together.
Remember how I was excited to continue making salads? I’ve done good! This chopped cucumber mint salad is mostly raw vegetables with some grilled eggplant thrown in, too. It’s wonderful. And the recipe makes so, so much. I gleefully ate it for every meal the next couple days. And I’ve got another salad in the works for you too. It’s the summer of Julie!
The recipe for this calls for a butterflied leg of lamb. I couldn’t find a really good hunk of lamb at the store, so I got a smaller one that Joe ended up cutting into pieces instead of butterflying. He insisted it made more sense when what I think really happened was that he was having fun playing the role of butcher (he used to be one). It doesn’t entirely matter what cut of lamb you use. They’ll all be good. Just make sure the thickness is even if you’re grilling. If you want to use a big hunk of meat without cutting it up, you’ll have to do some roasting.
I got to use the fresh mint for this that I have growing wild and wildly in my backyard. The plants that I planted are doing pretty well, too. My zucchini plants are by far the hardiest. I may have accidentally killed some of my seedlings by not hardening them properly. Stupid Colorado sun. So I replanted them, but outside this time. So they better buck up when they pop above the ground.
note: I’ve put the amount of meat that the original recipe called for, since my little chopped up leg of lamb isn’t the easiest to describe. You can adjust the amount of yogurt marinade (though you won’t be sad if you have extra) if you’re using a smaller piece like mine. The cooking time will also be lessened if you’re using a smaller piece. Err on the side of rare, because overdone (like mine in the main picture) isn’t so fun.
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups whole-milk yogurt
5 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 4–5 pound butterflied leg of lamb, opened like a book
4 lemons, halved
1. Grind coriander, cumin, caraway, and red pepper in a coffee grinder or spice mill.
2. Mix 1 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon spice mix, 1 minced/pressed garlic clove, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate – this will be for going on top of the finished dish.
3. Mix remaining 1 cup yogurt, 3 1/2 tablespoons of the spice mix, 4 minced/pressed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Either put lamb in the bowl or put lamb and yogurt in a large Ziploc bag. Refrigerate overnight, turning lamb or bag a couple of times.
4. When you’re ready to cook, remove lamb from fridge and bring to about room temperature.
5. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Remove lamb from bag or bowl and season with salt and pepper. Grill, 10–15 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into. Meanwhile, grill lemon halves, cut side down, until charred, about 5 minutes.
6. After the ten resting minutes are up, slice the lamb against the grain. Serve with the grilled lemons and the reserved spiced yogurt.
cucumber mint salad
1 large eggplant, chopped (optional)
6 cups coarsely chopped cucumbers (English hothouse, or regular are fine)
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup assorted pitted olives (such as Kalamata), halved
1 7-ounce package feta, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. While the lamb is grilling, toss the eggplant with some oil and put it in a vegetable grilling basket. Toss around until it’s browned and cooked through.
2. Combine eggplant, raw vegetables, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss vegetables with the dressing. Season to taste again with salt and pepper. Easy!
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. And enjoy the leftovers, too. That’s usually my favorite part!
Let me know what you think about my new business. I’d love to hear any and all feedback. Thanks!