In my opinion, roast lamb makes the best Sunday lunch. The meat is so flavoursome and is paired with the best condiment… mint sauce! Growing up we rarely had Sunday roasts as my mum was the only one in the family that could cook, so 3 meals a day, every day for 4 people was pretty tiresome! Understandably, she preferred to spend her Sundays doing something she enjoyed, rather than spending half a day in the kitchen to make yet another meal that would be gone in a matter of minutes. Lamb is a great recipe for a speedy roast however, as it takes only an hour or so to cook and there are some simple veggies that can be served alongside it. Teamed with it’s seasonal counterpart, asparagus, and roasted with garlic, rosemary and lemon, this lamb dish is a real winner!
- 1 – 1.5kg boneless lamb leg
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic bulb, plus a few extra cloves
- Small bunch of fresh rosemary, half whole sprigs, half chopped
- 500g parsnips
- 1 tbsp honey
- 400g asparagus
- Good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the salsa verde:
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 1 bunch of basil
- Handful of mint
- Handful of baby gherkins or cornichons
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 8-10 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Handful of anchovies (optional)
- Remove the lamb joint from the fridge half an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan).
- Using a sharp knife, score the fat on top of the lamb several times, then place the meat onto a roasting tray. Slice the garlic bulb in half lengthways (cutting through the middle of the cloves) and add to the roasting tray, along with some rosemary sprigs. Zest the lemon and set aside. Cut the remaining lemon in half and add to the roasting tray. Use a couple of cloves and a few sprigs of rosemary to stuff into the top of the lamb. Then rub the meat all over with a good glug of olive oil, the lemon zest, chopped rosemary and some salt and pepper.
- Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 20 minutes per 500g, plus a further 20 minutes. Alternatively, follow the butcher’s instruction for cooking time and temperature – this should be on the packaging of the meat.
- Meanwhile, prep the parsnips. Remove any dirt with a scrubbing brush (no need to peel them) and chop off the tops and tails. Slice into thick chips, about 3-4 inches long and an inch or so thick and place in a baking tray. Mix 1 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then use to coat the parsnips. Set aside, ready to place in the oven 15 minutes before the lamb is done. See timetable below for suggested timings.
- Next, make the salsa verde. Pop the herbs, garlic, cornichons and anchovies (if using) into a food processor and blitz until chopped up and combined. Alternatively, you can do this by hand for a more chunky texture. Add the mustard and red wine vinegar and blitz again. Gradually add the oil until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To prep the asparagus, remove the ends with a sharp knife and pop into a shallow bowl. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil with a good grind of salt and pepper and use to coat the asparagus. Set aside, ready to cook while the lamb rests. See timetable for suggested timings.
- Once the lamb is cooked, remove from the oven and place on a carving tray or wooden meat board. Cover completely in tin foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
- For the final 10 minutes of resting time, and 10 minutes before the parsnips are done, cook the asparagus. Heat a griddle pan on a medium-high heat until hot. Place the asparagus onto the griddle pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until charred in places and cooked through.
- Carve the lamb and serve with a heap of parnsips, some asparagus spears and a dollop of salsa verde.
This recipe is the first of a two-part roast lamb recipe. To minimise leftovers and make the most of this delicious meat, check out my recipe for harissa lamb flatbreads with hummus, mint raita and pomegranate.