Lamb and Asparagus: A Classic Spring Pairing

Very few foods say spring like lamb and asparagus. Many families serve both at their Easter or Passover dinners, and mine was no exception.

I grew up associating those flavors with the season, and they still bring back a sense of nostalgia. Though my mother made her lamb the same way every year—with whole cloves of garlic inserted into the meat before roasting, rosemary sprinkled generously on the skin, and mint jelly as a condiment—as I began to develop my own abilities in the kitchen, I came up with my own now tried-and-true method of roasting lamb.

Asparagus is the kind of vegetable that we will and do pick up whenever it is on sale at the grocery store—particularly the thin, tender stalks, which are our favorite. They lend themselves best to raw preparations, whereas the thicker stalks are great for grilling. In this case, I wanted to get the flavor of a roasted asparagus tip and the texture of a raw stalk, so I did both. With a bright, citrus dressing, it's the best of both worlds.


Pesto-crusted Lamb Roast

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless leg of lamb roast
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. If lamb roast is not trussed, secure it with butcher twine so that it does not come unrolled during the cooking process. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine mint leaves, garlic cloves, butter, oil, salt and pepper. Blend until it reaches a thick paste consistency.
  3. Smear all sides of the lamb roast generously with the mixture, and place on a rack in a baking dish or roasting pan, with the fatty side up.
  4. Roast 20 minutes per pound for medium rare, or 130°F internal temperature.

Asparagus Two Ways Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
  • The juice and zest of one small lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for roasting)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut tips off of asparagus and place on a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, and roast approximately 30 minutes (while lamb is cooking.)
  2. Thinly slice or shave remaining stalks, and place in a bowl. For this step, I used a vegetable peeler, but you could also use a mandolin if you have one.
  3. In a measuring cup, combine lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Add salt and pepper as desired.
  4. When asparagus tips are done roasting, add them to the bowl with the shaved stalks and drizzle with the dressing. Toss and serve with pesto-crusted lamb.